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Iranian lawmakers and analysts have said Iran would not benefit from killing the Saudi ambassador in Washington, even if it might have sought to punish its Saudi rivals for intervening in Bahrain to crush a Shiite-led uprising there. Majority Shiite Iran is regarded with deep suspicion on the Arab side of the Gulf, which is largely Sunni.

Political analyst Sadeq Zibakalam said the accusations were part of a U.S. strategy to encircle Iran.

“The Americans seek to close the circle around Iran at the international level. … It’s a prelude to transferring Iran’s dossier to the U.N. Security Council,” he said in comments posted on the fararu.com news website Sunday.

Mr. Zibakalam, however, said there was no plausible or logical reason for Iran to assassinate the Saudi envoy in Washington.

“If we assume that Iranian officials sought to punish the Saudis for their intervention in Bahrain, there were tens of other venues such as Turkey, India and Pakistan where Iran could carry out an assassination with the least political costs and consequences, not in U.S.,” he said.