U.S. State Department officials plan to respond strongly to a terrorist plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States.
The Justice Department announced a day earlier that the plot to kill Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir with a bomb was foiled by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and Mexican police.
The Justice Department also blamed the Iranian government for sponsoring the planned attack.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is saying she will announce a new round of sanctions against Iran soon, but she has not given a date. In addition, the Saudi government said Iran would "pay the price" for the assassination attempt.
State Department officials said they have no plans for a military response against Iran.
However, Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News Wednesday that "nothing has been taken off the table" for the U.S. response.
"It is an outrageous act that the Iranians are going to have to be held accountable," Biden said. "This is really over the top."
The suspect in the bomb plot is being held in a New York jail after being arraigned in federal court.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been strained since the Saudi government joined the United States and Israel in condemning Iran for its nuclear development program, which they say is a cover for building nuclear weapons.
The suspect is an Iranian-American identified as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a naturalized American.
The federal indictment against Arbabsiar named a second man, Gohlam Shakuri, as a co-conspirator. Shakuri is a member of the Qods force, a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
The indictment charges the men with conspiracy to kill a foreign official and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. Police still are searching for Shakuri.
The British government announced Wednesday it was discussing new sanctions against Iran with the United States. "We would support any measures that help hold Iran accountable for its actions," said Steve Field, spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was alerted to the bomb plot by an informant in Mexico. Arbabsiar allegedly traveled to Reynosa, Mexico to meet with drug cartel assassins to ask their assistance in the bombings.
The informant posed as a member of the feared Zetas drug cartel. Arbabsiar allegedly promised to pay $1.5 million and provide "tons of opium" to the cartel in exchange for assistance in assassinating the Saudi ambassador.
When Arbabsiar returned to Mexico to meet with the informant on Sept. 28, Mexican police arrested him and put him on an airplane to New York, where the FBI arrested him.
The federal indictment says Arbabsiar wanted to detonate a bomb to kill the Saudi ambassador at an unnamed downtown Washington, DC, restaurant. The restaurant bombing was to be followed by bomb attacks at the Saudi and Israeli embassies.
His conversations with the informant indicated as many as a hundred people could be killed in the bombings, but that Arbabsiar appeared unconcerned.
"If the hundred go with him...," Arbabsiar told the informant, then finished his sentence with an expletive.
Regarding the risk that U.S. senators might be killed, Arbabsiar told the informant, "No big deal."
Arbabsiar reportedly also said he was directed "by high-ranking members of the Iranian government." They include a relative who is "a member of the Iranian army but did not wear a uniform," Arbabsiar said.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the plot was "conceived, sponsored and was directed from Iran."
He called the plot a "flagrant" violation of U.S. and international law. "The U.S. is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions," Holder said.
White House officials said Wednesday the investigation continues to see how high responsibility reaches in the Iranian government for the assassination plot.
They said Wednesday it is "likely" Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was involved. They were uncertain about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's involvement.
Iran is denying allegations that government leaders are involved in the assassination plot.
"Iran strongly denies the untrue and baseless allegations over a plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington," Iran's English language Press TV quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying. "It is a comedy show fabricated by America."
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