The following editorial first appeared in the Kansas City Star:
The alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the ambassador of Saudi Arabia on U.S. soil suggests the Iranians have radically raised the stakes in their struggle with Washington.
The Obama administration, which came into office hoping Tehran could be “engaged,” has had another lesson in the difficulty of that approach.
A White House official said the assassination plan is a sign of a “dangerous” escalation of violence by the Iranians, and the Iranians must learn that the United States “doesn’t tolerate the targeting of foreign diplomats on our soil.”
Arraigned Tuesday in the case was Mansoor Arbabsiar, an Iranian-American from Texas. He is accused of trying to contract with a Mexican drug cartel member to bomb the Saudi ambassador’s favorite Washington restaurant as he dined. Unfortunately for Arbabsiar, the cartel man with whom he was dealing actually was a U.S. informant.
Iran has called the story a fabrication, but U.S. officials say Arbabsiar has confessed. Also accused, but still in Iran, is Gholam Shakuri, believed to be a member of the Revolutionary Guard’s secretive Quds force.
The administration says it will work with U.S. allies to send Iran a strong message. Tough talk mandates a tough response, one that should come as soon as possible.