TEHRAN: Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday “strongly” rejected accusations by Israel‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran was behind a recent attack on an Israeli-owned ship on the Gulf of Oman.
“It is indeed an Iranian act, that’s clear,” Netanyahu told Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, referring to the MV Helios Ray, which was last week hit by a blast in the Gulf of Oman leaving two holes in its side.
“We strongly deny this accusation,” spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference, adding that “the source of this accusation itself shows how invalid (the claim) is.”
He added that Netanyahu was suffering from “an obsession with Iran”.
The MV Helios Ray, a vehicle carrier, was travelling from the Saudi port of Dammam to Singapore when the blast occurred on Thursday, according to the London-based Dryad Global Maritime security group.
It was not clear what caused the explosion, which punctured the boat’s hull but did not cause any casualties among the crew or damage to the engine.
Iran’s ultraconservative Kayhan daily had on Sunday said the “resistance axis” of Tehran and its regional allies may have been behind the explosion, claiming the boat belonged to the Israeli army.
“This spy ship, although it was sailing secretly, may have fallen into the ambush of one of the branches of the resistance axis,” it added, without offering further details.
The term “resistance axis” usually refers to the Islamic republic and its allied forces in the region.
Israel has long accused arch-foe Iran of trying to acquire nuclear weapons, a charge always denied by Tehran.
Iran blamed the November 27 assassination of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on the Jewish state.