Fri. Sep 17th, 2021

Israel has pointed the finger at Iran for an attack that killed two crew members, an accusation that Iran denies.

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government has denied a claim by Israel that it was behind an attack on a ship off Oman earlier this week that killed two crew members.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the allegations during a virtual news conference on Sunday, saying it was not the first time Israel had made such allegations.

“Wherever this regime has gone, it has brought insecurity, terror and violence. The responsible [for this attack] are those who have allowed the Israeli regime to set foot in this region, ”he said.

“Whoever sows wind will reap a storm,” Khatibzadeh said, adding that Iran would defend its national security where necessary.

The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Merker Street, run by a company owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, was hit late Thursday northeast of the Omani island of Masirah during an apparent drone strike that killed a Romanian and a British citizen.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, claimed Iran was behind the attack, but had not yet provided any evidence.

After the attack, U.S. naval vessels escorted Mercer Street as they made their way to a safe haven.

Over the years, the enemies Iran and Israel have regularly accused each other of attacks on interests, vessels and nuclear facilities. But their years-long hostility has escalated in recent months as world powers try to salvage Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which, if successful, would lift strict US sanctions against Iran.

The incident involving Mercer Street took place days before Ebrahim Raisi was to be inaugurated as the eighth president of Iran on Thursday. The harsh judge has promised to work on restoring the agreement, which was unilaterally abandoned by the US in 2018, but the fate of the agreement is still unclear as several important issues have not yet been resolved.

A seventh and possibly final round of talks is expected to begin in the Austrian capital, Vienna, after Raisi takes office.

Observers expect Iran and the US to disagree on what sanctions should be lifted and how, and how, Tehran should scale back its significantly expanded nuclear program after the US deal was halted.

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