UN condemns plot against Saudi envoy

United Nations:  The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning an alleged plot, blamed by the US on elements in Iranian establishment, to assassinate Saudi envoy to Washington and asked Tehran to cooperate in the probe, a voting from which India abstained.

The 193-member Assembly adopted a Saudi-drafted resolution that "deplored" the plot to kill Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in Washington and called on Iran to cooperate with countries trying to bring to justice those who planned, sponsored or attempted to carry it out.

The resolution did not directly accuse Tehran of carrying out the plot, but it called on Iran "to comply with all of its obligations under international law, including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, particularly with respect to its obligations to provide law enforcement assistance."

It asked Tehran to "cooperate with States seeking to bring to justice all those who participated in the planning, sponsoring, organisation and attempted execution" of the plot.

In explaining India`s decision on the resolution on `Terrorist Attacks on Internationally Protected Persons`, New Delhi`s Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said "we have abstained on the resolution, as its substance deals with a specific case in which we are not in the possession of full facts and the matter is sub-judice."

The resolution received 106 votes in favour and nine votes against, while 40 countries abstained. A series of proposed amendments from Iran did not obtain a majority and were not adopted.

Puri said India, which itself has been a victim of terrorism for decades, condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Having been on the "forefront" of global actions on counter-terrorism, India`s "tireless efforts" as Chair of the UN Security Council`s Counter-Terrorism Committee have resulted in the UN adopting a `zero tolerance` approach towards terrorism, Puri said.

"We strongly believe that crimes against diplomatic agents and other internationally-protected persons, jeopardising the safety of these persons, create a serious threat to the maintenance of normal international relations which are necessary for cooperation among States," he said.

India is a State Party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally- Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, of 1973.

Puri said India takes its obligations under this Convention with utmost seriousness and called upon all States parties to comply fully with the provisions of the Convention.

He also urged all UN member-states to strive for the "strict implementation" of the zero tolerance approach to terrorism.

The US last month charged Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalised US citizen holding both Iranian and US passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran`s Qods Force, with conspiring in the Saudi envoy assassination plot.

Iran has denied having a hand in the plot saying the US allegations are "fabricated and baseless" and are an "evil plot" by Washington.

The UN General Assembly, in its resolution yesterday, expressed its "deep concern" over the alleged plot against the Saudi envoy.

The resolution said it "strongly condemns" acts of violence against diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, as well as against missions and representatives of international intergovernmental organisations and officials of such organizations, and emphasises that such acts can "never be justified."

The UN member states also voiced deep concern over the alleged plot and said they were "alarmed by the new and recurring acts of violence against diplomatic and consular representatives, which endanger or take innocent lives and seriously impede the normal work of such representatives and officials."

A series of proposed amendments from Iran did not obtain a majority and were not adopted.

The text noted that the US had last month reported to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on "an Iranian plot" to assassinate the Saudi ambassador.

Deploring the plot, the resolution encouraged all countries to take extra steps to prevent the planning, financing or commission of "similar terrorist acts and to deny safe haven to those who plan, finance, support or commit such terrorist acts."

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said America "strongly supports and co-sponsors" Saudi Arabia`s draft resolution to deplore the assassination bid. "Given the nature of this plot, it cannot be seen as just a simple criminal act. Attacks on internationally protected persons have long been understood as emblematic acts of international terrorism," she said.

Terming the resolution a "measured and appropriate response", Rice said it will send the message that such plots are "unacceptable."

She said the US will not let the plot go "unanswered", adding: "To do so would suggest that acts like these are within the bounds of acceptable behaviour to resolve international conflicts."

Saudi Arabia`s Permanent Representative to the UN Abdullah Al-Mouallimi told reporters later that the resolution was not directed against any state and did not include any assumption of guilt on part of anybody.

However, he said there is "overwhelming" evidence to implicate and suggest that elements related to and working for the Iranian revolutionary army have been involved in the plot.

"If Iran claims that the (allegations) are not true all they need to do is step forward and present their case and we would be happy to find out what the truth is," he said.

Iran`s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee said those who drafted the resolution converted and diverted the substance by implying to a specific country. "The whole idea is based on an allegation not proven by any court or official investigation… Therefore putting a resolution based on just alleged plot or allegation is not the right way to do."

The move is "based on an unsubstantiated claim by a state which has a long history of animosity against my country," he said referring to the US.

Khazaee said Iran rejects involvement by any of its agencies in the plot, adding that the resolution was "mind-boggling" as nobody had been found guilty in court of organising the plot.

He said the person who has been charged with the plot is an "American citizen who lived here."

On Iran`s cooperation in the investigation, he said "cooperation needs information. We have not been provided information or evidence."

The plot, uncovered last month, further strained relations between Washington and Tehran.

Separately, the International Atomic Energy Agency`s board yesterday passed a resolution of "deep and increasing concern" about Iran`s nuclear activities, but stopped short of fixing a deadline

A total of 32 countries on the 35-nation IAEA Board of Governors that includes India, voted in favour, while Indonesia abstained and Cuba and Ecuador voted against the resolution.

But, the resolution set no timeframe for Iran to comply.