The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday deploring the alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States and pointed a finger at Iran.
The 193-member world body didn't directly accuse Iran of involvement, but it called on the Islamic Republic to comply with international law requiring protection of diplomats and to cooperate in bringing those responsible for the assassination plot to justice.
The United States alleged in October that agents linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard were involved in a plot to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir at his favorite restaurant in Washington. It has charged a U.S. citizen who holds an Iranian passport and an Iranian described as a member of an elite Revolutionary Guard unit, who is still at large.
Iran, which has vehemently denied any involvement and called the allegations "laughable," tried to have all references to the Islamic Republic removed from the Saudi-sponsored resolution. But it received support from less than a dozen countries, and its attempts to amend the Saudi draft were defeated.
The General Assembly then approved the resolution by a vote of 106-9, with 40 abstentions. Those joining Iran in voting "no" were Armenia, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Zambia.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice hailed the vote, saying it showed that "Iran is increasingly isolated," and noting that not one of the eight countries that joined Tehran in opposing the resolution was a predominantly Islamic or Arab nation.
"The world came together in a very strong message that diplomats and the work we do are sacrosanct," she said. "We all deserve protection and the ability to do the work of the state without fear or threat of violence. And today the members of the General Assembly delivered that message very forcefully."
The White House said the United States, one of about 60 co-sponsors of the resolution, "will continue to work closely with our allies and partners around the world to ensure that Iran understands that such outrageous acts only deepen Iran's isolation."
General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding _ unlike Security Council resolutions _ but they do reflect world opinion.
It was highly unusual for Saudi Arabia to sponsor a resolution, but Saudi Ambassador Abdullah Al-Mouallimi told the assembly before the vote that the time had come to say "enough terrorism, enough of attacking diplomats."
The resolution "deplores" the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, "strongly condemns" acts of violence against diplomats and diplomatic missions, and calls on all states to prevent the planning, financing and commission of similar "terrorist acts" on their territory.
Al-Mouallimi stressed that the resolution didn't "accuse or condemn any party" but mentioned Iran because the country was mentioned in the confession of Manssor Arbabsiar, who subsequently pleaded not guilty.
He challenged Iran to "prove its innocence if it is not involved in this plot."
A U.S. criminal complaint accused Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, who the U.S. said was a member of Iran's elite Quds Force, of hiring a would-be assassin in Mexico. That man was also a paid informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who told U.S. authorities the details of the plot, which led to the arrest of Arbabsiar and charges against Shakuri.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are the Middle East's two most powerful rivals, and their mudslinging has grown more intense amid the Arab Spring uprisings. Mideast analysts have expressed concern that it could veer into crisis mode over the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi envoy.
Iran's U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said that he would support the resolution _ if all references to the Islamic Republic were stripped out.
Khazaee "categorically rejected the involvement of any Iranian officials or agencies in the alleged plot" and said the resolution was based on "an unsubstantiated claim" by the U.S., which has a long history of animosity against his country.
He argued that the resolution prejudged the outcome of the case.