Iran Denies Involvement in Attack on Israeli-owned Ship: 'Gulf Security Is Extremely Important for Us'

Iran's foreign minister warns 'Israel knows very well that our response in the field of national security has always been fierce and accurate' after accusing the country of 'suspicious actions in the region'

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Saeed Khatibzadeh, the official spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meets with Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Damascus last month.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, the official spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meets with Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Damascus last month.Credit: - - AFP

Iran strongly rejects Israel's claim that Tehran was behind a blast aboard an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a televised news conference on Monday.

"We strongly reject this accusation... the security of the Persian Gulf is extremely important for Iran," Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran on Monday for the blast aboard the MV Helios Ray, a vehicle-carrier ship, but sidestepped a question on whether Israel would retaliate.

Khatibzadeh said Netanyahu was "suffering from an obsession with Iran" and described his charges as "fear-mongering."

He also accused Israel of taking "suspicious actions in the region" against Iran in recent months to undermine the 2015 nuclear deal, without elaborating, and vowed Iran would respond.

"Israel knows very well that our response in the field of national security has always been fierce and accurate," he said.

Overnight, Syrian state media reported a series of alleged Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, saying air defense systems had intercepted most of the missiles. Israeli media reports said the alleged airstrikes were on Iranian targets in response to the ship attack.

'Historic mistake'

Khatibzadeh also reiterated that the United States should lift sanctions first if it wants to hold talks with Tehran to salvage the nuclear deal with world powers that former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned.

President Joe Biden has said Washington is ready for talks about both nations resuming compliance with the pact, under which Tehran secured an easing of sanctions by limiting its nuclear work. But each side wants the other to move first.

The West fears Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, while Tehran says that has never been its goal.

"President Joe Biden's administration should change Trump's maximum pressure policy towards Tehran ... If they want talks with Iran, first they should lift sanctions," Khatibzadeh said.

Washington said on Sunday it was disappointed by Tehran's refusal to hold talks but was ready to "re-engage in meaningful diplomacy" and would consult with major powers.

While Iran has been demanding the lifting of U.S. sanctions first, Washington says Tehran must return to compliance with the deal, which Iran has been progressively breaching since 2019.

"The new U.S. administration's refusal to return to the deal is a historic mistake," Khatibzadeh said, saying Tehran would continue to work with the UN nuclear watchdog despite scaling back cooperation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments