Rep. King: Iran's U.N. reps are mostly spies

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King, D-N.Y. presides over the committee's hearing on Islamic radicalization in the US, focusing on recruitment within the Muslim American community, Wednesday, July 27, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON - New York Congressman Peter King says the U.S. should kick out Iranian officials at the U.N. in New York and in Washington because many of them are spies.

Speaking at a hearing Wednesday, the Democrat says such a move would send a clear signal after the recent alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

The U.S. and Iran have no diplomatic relations and thus there are no Iranian diplomats in the U.S. except those attached to the U.N. mission in New York. Iran maintains a fulltime U.N. ambassador and a staff there. Although those diplomats are allowed to live in the U.S. for that purpose, the U.N. is an independent international body and the U.S. cannot simply kick out diplomats accredited there en masse.

While the chances of kicking out Iranian diplomats to the U.N. are unlikely at best, that didn't stop the lawmaker from piling on the Islamic republic over the alleged assassination plot.

"So you have the assassination of a foreign ambassador, you have the willingness to kill hundreds of Americans -- this is an act of war," King said, according to Radio Free Europe. "I don't think we can just do business as usual or even carry out sanctions as usual."

Another Democrat at the hearing, Miss. Rep. Bennie Thompson, offered a more measured approach to the situation.

Thompson said: "We must not overstate nor overreact to the threat we currently face from Iran."

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