Ambassador assassination plot: SA beefs up security, meets with US officials

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  • It was reported the Islamic Republic of Iran was allegedly considering a plot to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks. Iran dismissed these reports.
  • The State Security Agency said senior government officials met their counterparts from the US over the alleged assassination plot.
  • It said at present, their is insufficient information to sustain allegations of a credible threat.

Senior government officials have met with their counterparts from the United States over an alleged plot to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks.

"At present, the information provided is not sufficient to sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat against the United States Ambassador to South Africa."

This is according to the State Security Agency (SSA), who in a statement on Friday said government officials had requested additional information from US officials.

SSA spokesperson Mava Scott said: "Once the information is forthcoming, the facts will be reviewed and re-assessed."

"Our sovereignty and territorial integrity is of utmost importance to the South African government and her people."

READ | Ambassador assassination plot: SSA assures safety of Lana Marks, while Iran dismisses media reports

"In this regard, the South African government takes seriously any alleged threat and we have therefore heightened our security situation/alertness. It is our duty to protect all diplomatic missions, and their personnel, present in South Africa."

Scott added that South Africa valued its bilateral and multilateral relations and would not compromise on any matter of security.

On Monday, News24 reported that the SSA had interacted with all relevant partners, both in the country and abroad, to ensure the diplomat would not be harmed.

The interaction took place following a media report by Politico which alleged that the Islamic Republic of Iran was said to be considering a plan to kill Marks.

The report stated that US officials were aware of a threat against her in apparent retaliation for the US killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020.

The drone assassination of Soleimani was intended as a deterrent to Iranian aggression, the US State Department said at the time.

The SSA said in a previous statement that it had noted reports about the alleged assassination plot and the rising public interest on the matter.

READ | US claims Iran plotting to kill ambassador to SA, Lana Marks

State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said South Africa had a duty to protect all diplomatic officials who were on state duty in the country.

"It should be noted that the nature of the allegation and attendant threat doesn't permit us to give any detailed updates on the investigations," Scott added.

"Reports thereon shall be provided to all the relevant authorities including the president of the republic, the minister of international relations and cooperation and relevant officials in the United States administration."

Iran dismisses assassination plot

Meanwhile, in a statement on Monday, the spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saeed Khatibzadeh, dismissed the report by the US-based media house.

He described it as "custom-ordered, biased and purposeful".

"We advise the American officials to stop resorting to hackneyed and worn-out methods for anti-Iran propaganda in the international arena," Khatibzadeh said.

"As a responsible member of the international community, the Islamic Republic of Iran has proved its constant commitment to the international diplomatic principles and norms."

Khatibzadeh called the allegations part of US President Donald Trump's counter-intelligence campaign against Iran, adding it was predictable the US would resort to anti-Iran accusations and falsification ahead of the US presidential election.

As for the assassination of Soleimani, the Islamic Republic of Iran would press on with international legal action at all levels, he said.

On Friday, the SSA reiterated that such plots of assassination against diplomats were viewed in a very serious light.

"We urge everyone to remain calm," said Scott.

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