‘Indeed an Iranian act’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 02, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:11 AM, March 02, 2021

‘Indeed an Iranian act’

Netanyahu blames Tehran for ship attack; Iran dismisses idea of talks with EU, US to revive 2015 nuclear deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday accused Iran of a recent attack on an Israeli-owned ship, noting his country was regularly "striking" its arch-foe in comments that followed an overnight raid on Syria.

Iran has denied any role in the explosion last Thursday that hit the MV Helios Ray in the Gulf of Oman, leaving two holes in its side but causing no casualties.

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The latest escalation between the sides came as the international community has been trying to salvage the troubled 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

"It is indeed an Iranian act, that's clear," Netanyahu told public broadcaster Kan.

"As for a reaction -- you know my policy," he continued.

"Iran is Israel's greatest enemy, I'm determined to block it, we're striking at it throughout the region."

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh responded swiftly to dismiss Netanyahu's claims.

"We strongly deny this accusation," Khatibzadeh told reporters, adding that "the source of this accusation itself shows how invalid (the claim) is."

Netanyahu's remarks came hours after Syrian air defences intercepted what they said were Israeli missiles over Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the strike hit the area of Sayyida Zeinab south of Damascus, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Hezbollah forces are reported to be present.

There was no immediate report of casualties.

Meanwhile, Iran on Sunday dismissed Europe's offer for an informal meeting involving the United States on the troubled 2015 nuclear deal, saying the time is not "suitable" as Washington has failed to lift sanctions.

The European Union's political director earlier this month proposed the informal meeting involving all parties of the Vienna deal, a proposition accepted by US President Joe Biden's administration.

Following Biden's election, the US, the European parties to the deal -- France, Germany and Britain -- and Tehran have been trying to salvage the accord, which granted Iran sanctions relief in return for restrictions on its nuclear programme.

The accord has been nearing collapse since former president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions against Tehran.

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