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Iran rejects US claims of conspiracy to assassinate ex-official Bolton

#Iran #rejects #claims #conspiracy #assassinate #exofficial #Bolton

Iran on Thursday dismissed as “fiction” US allegations that it planned to kill former White House national security adviser John Bolton in retaliation for the assassination of one of its top commanders.

The US claim comes at a critical moment in talks to revive a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, which Washington abandoned in 2018 but announced it would rejoin, with Iran now considering what European Union mediators say referred to as the “final” text.

“The US Department of Justice has made allegations without providing valid evidence, creating a new work of fiction,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.

“This time they’ve come up with a conspiracy involving people like Bolton, whose political careers have failed,” Kanani scoffed.

“The Islamic Republic warns against any action directed against Iranian citizens, resorting to ridiculous allegations.”

The US Department of Justice said Wednesday it has indicted a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards over allegations that he offered to pay someone in the United States $300,000 to kill Bolton.

The plan was likely set in retaliation for the US killing of top guard commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq in January 2020, the department said.

Guard member Shahram Poursafi is also said to have considered the possibility of a second target, which he said would net the alleged assassin $1 million.

Court filings did not identify this alleged target, but according to US media outlet Axios, it was former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

– ‘Serious Consequences’ –

The person Poursafi was dealing with was actually a CID informant, according to court records.

Poursafi has been charged with using interstate trade facilities to commit murder for hire, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison; and providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational assassination attempt, which carries a 15-year prison sentence.

The Justice Ministry said Poursafi remains at large and is believed to be in Iran.

“Should Iran attack any of our citizens, including those who continue to serve the United States or those who previously served, Iran will face serious consequences,” current White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned after the indictment was announced.

Soleimani, a figure revered in Iran, was killed in a US drone strike shortly after he landed at Baghdad airport on January 7, 2020.

Since his death, Tehran has vowed revenge and the United States has tightened security for prominent current and former officials, including Pompeo, who was heading the State Department when Soleimani was killed.

Bolton, like Pompeo a sharp critic of Iran, was national security adviser in the White House of former President Donald Trump from April 2018 to September 2019.

He was staunchly opposed to the 2015 deal that placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program and supported the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the pact in May 2018.

Bolton called the Iranian government “liars, terrorists and enemies of the United States” in a statement on Wednesday.

Kanani said the US Justice Department’s “baseless allegations” were a smokescreen to “avoid accountability for the numerous crimes in which the US government was directly implicated, such as the cowardly assassination” of Soleimani.

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