Nightly News   |  October 13, 2011

Obama speaks against ‘dangerous and reckless’ Iran

In an unusual move, U.S. officials sought out Iran's diplomats at the United Nations to complain about the alleged assassination plot, and President Obama spoke against the Iranian government’s “dangerous and reckless” behavior. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Meanwhile, the drumbeat against Iran continued today at the highest levels of the US government for that alleged plot that sounded contrived to a lot of people, like a Hollywood movie plot, the one in which an Iranian-American hires Mexican drug lords to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington . Our chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell 's on the story again in Washington tonight. Andrea , good evening.

ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: Good evening, Brian . Acknowledging that this alleged plot was ham-handed and there is no proof it was sanctioned by Iran 's top leaders, US officials are trying to rally the world against Tehran . Today the president said he's taking no options off the table, meaning more economic pressure against Iran . The administration is so confident of its evidence, the president himself was making the case today.

President BARACK OBAMA: This is a -- not just a dangerous escalation. This is part of a pattern of dangerous and reckless behavior by the Iranian government .

MITCHELL: In a highly unusual step, US officials sought out Iran 's diplomats at the UN to complain. US allies like Britain 's Prime Minister Cameron have been briefed on the evidence and say it's credible. The prime target, Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir , is like a son to the Saudi king, an outspoken critic of Iran . US officials say another potential target was Michael Oren , Israel 's ambassador to the United States . Who could have concocted such a plot? Today the FBI told the Senate Intelligence Committee Iran 's elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard, not known to be bunglers, was directly involved.

Senator DIANNE FEINSTEIN (Democrat, Intelligence Committee Chair): We believe there is a connection with the Quds Force and we believe that the head of the Quds Force is aware of this. And so this was a Quds Force action.

MITCHELL: The head of the Quds Force , Qasem Soleimani , a veteran spymaster, is one of five Iranians sanctioned by the Treasury on Monday. But the senators say there is no evidence the alleged plot went any higher to Iran 's top leaders.

Sen. FEINSTEIN: And there was no knowledge of either President Ahmadinejad or the supreme leader .

MITCHELL: The Ayatollah Khamenei accused the US of trying to divert attention from the Occupy Wall Street protests. And Iranian officials are accusing Israel , with US help, of killing five Iranian nuclear scientists in the past two years, something US officials will not discuss. And how to explain that a one-time used car dealer from a gang that couldn't shoot straight could be involved in a plot directed by Iran 's top spies? One official told me, 'Don't forget our own CIA once considered killing Fidel Castro with an exploding cigar.' And they say the entire US government would not be signing onto this evidence if it weren't true. Brian :

WILLIAMS: Andrea Mitchell in our DC bureau tonight. Andrea , thanks.