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A top Senate Dem says Iran plot may be act of war

October 12, 2011

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WASHINGTON—The alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States may be an act of war against the U.S., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Wednesday.

"It may be," Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told reporters when asked whether he considers the alleged scheme to be an act of war. "But I'd want to see what the implications of that characterization are before I use it."

At the least, Levin said, the alleged plan was "a damn serious threat to the United States." He said that either way, there should be a serious response by the U.S., but he declined to say what that response might be.

"It's in the United States, an alleged effort to assassinate somebody on our territory who, by the way, is an ambassador to the United States. So whether or not that constitutes an act of war against the United States" is a valid question, he said.

Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who heads a Homeland Security subcommittee, said the alleged plan would be an act of war if it was sponsored by the Iranian government.

Federal prosecutors have accused Iran of planning to pay a Mexican drug cartel figure to kill the Saudi ambassador with a bomb in Washington. President Barack Obama says the purported scheme is "a flagrant violation of U.S. and international law."

Iran has denied the accusations.