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Iran ‘strongly rejects’ claim it targeted Israeli-linked oil tanker in Persian Gulf

“We are very active in maintaining security and freedom of navigation in international waters and will continue to do so,” said an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers an address on Oct. 19, 2022. Source: Channel 1 (Iran) via MEMRI.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers an address on Oct. 19, 2022. Source: Channel 1 (Iran) via MEMRI.

Iran rejected on Monday Jerusalem’s accusation that Tehran attacked an Israeli-linked oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on Feb. 10.

“We strongly reject the Zionist regime’s accusation against Iran regarding the attack on the Israeli tanker,” Reuters quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani as saying.

“We are very active in maintaining security and freedom of navigation in international waters and will continue to do so,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel is ceaselessly confronting Iran’s nefarious activities, as the Islamic Republic’s attempts to attack the Jewish state are unending,

“On the Iranian front, our efforts are unceasing for the simple reason that Iran’s acts of aggression are unceasing. Last week, Iran again attacked an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and struck at the international freedom of navigation,” said Netanyahu.

BBC Persian reported on Friday that Iranian forces had targeted the Liberia-flagged Campo Square, whose owner is Zodiac Maritime, a shipping company led by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

In November, an oil tanker operated by an Israeli-owned shipping firm was struck by an explosive drone off the coast of Oman. Eastern Pacific Shipping, which is owned by Idan Ofer, Eyal’s brother, said in a statement that its Pacific Zircon was “struck by a projectile” around 150 miles off the coast.

And last year, United States Central Command concluded in a public report that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was behind a similar drone attack on the Japanese-owned tanker Mercer Street in July 2021. Two members of the vessel’s crew were killed in the attack.

The Mercer Street’s British management company is owned by Idan Ofer.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the annual Munich Security Conference on Friday that Tehran was also currently engaged in negotiations to sell dozens of countries advanced weapons ahead of the upcoming expiration of a U.N. arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.

“Iran is no longer a ‘local supplier’ serving proxies in the Middle East. It is a ‘multinational corporation,’ a global exporter of advanced weapons,” said Gallant. “From Belarus in Eastern Europe to Venezuela in South America—we have seen Iran delivering UAVs with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers. In fact, Iran is currently holding discussions to sell advanced weapons … to no less than 50 different countries.”

Gallant called on world powers to take concrete steps to prevent the proliferation of Iranian arms once the U.N. arms embargo expires on Oct. 18 in accordance with the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) from which the United States withdrew in May 2018.

Netanyahu on Sunday further emphasized Jerusalem’s commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and entrenching itself militarily along Israel’s northern border.

“We are doing—and will do—everything to defend our people, and we are responding forcefully to the attacks against us,” he said.

Hours later, Bloomberg reported that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors last week detected uranium enriched to 84% purity in Iran, just below the 90% level needed for nuclear weapons.

The report, citing two senior diplomats, said the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog was trying to clarify how Tehran accumulated the material, which is at the highest level of purity found by monitors in the country to date.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi last month called the moribund 2015 nuclear deal an “empty shell,” and said Tehran has sufficient nuclear material for several atomic bombs if it is enriched to weapons-grade levels.

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