President Donald Trump‘s response to allegations that Iran plotted to kill a U.S. ambassador comes as he continues to face pressure over tackling claims Russia placed bounties on troops in Afghanistan.
Commenting on reports of a planned retaliatory attack from Iran following the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, Trump said any action from the nation against the U.S. would be with a response “1,000 times greater in magnitude.”
The president tweeted: “According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani, which was carried out for his planning a future attack, murdering U.S. Troops, and the death & suffering…caused over so many years. Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”
A report from Politico suggested the Iranian government is considering an assassination attempt, targeting the U.S. ambassador to South Africa. It cited anonymous officials, one of which it said was familiar with the issue and another it said had seen intelligence on the matter.
Iran has denied the allegations, with the nation’s foreign affairs ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh describing the report as “anti-Iran propaganda.”
He insisted Iran would press on with “international legal action at all levels in connection with the criminal and cowardly assassination of General Soleimani,” suggesting the White House administration has “become a rogue regime in the international arena.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he could not “comment on the intelligence” but added Iran had engaged in “assassination efforts all across the world.”
“We take these kinds of allegations seriously,” he told Fox News.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said that he had not been officially briefed on the situation but found the threat “credible based on previous attempts by Iran to target diplomats in other countries.”
The president’s comments come as he continues to face pressure over his response to reports Russia was involved in paying bounties to militants targeting U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan.
Democratic senators have introduced legislation to require the president to certify if the Russian government was behind such bounties and to impose sanctions on those involved.
Russia has denied the allegations while Trump has similarly downplayed their veracity.
He also denied being aware of the claims before they became public through a report from The New York Times.
In July, Trump said he had not discussed the matter at any point with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) furthered calls for action against Russia, tweeting Monday: “Plain & simple: Donald Trump has gone 80 days without condemning Putin for putting reported bounties on our troops.
“This is unforgivable.”
Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.