The Iranian government has rejected 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 this was not the first time Israel has made such claims.
“Wherever this regime has gone, it has brought with itself insecurity, terror and violence. Those responsible [for this attack] are the ones that allowed the Israeli regime to set foot in this region,” he said.
“Whoever sows wind will reap a storm,” Khatibzadeh said, adding that Iran will defend its national security wherever necessary.
Liberian-flagged oil tanker Mercer Street, managed by a company belonging to Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, was struck late on Thursday northeast of the Omani island of Masirah, in an apparent drone attack that killed a Romanian and a UK national.
Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, have alleged Iran was behind the hit but have yet to provide evidence.
After the attack, US Navy vessels escorted the Mercer Street as it headed to a safe port.
Foes Iran and Israel have frequently accused each other over the years of attacks on interests, vessels and nuclear facilities. But their years-long enmity has intensified in recent months as world powers try to salvage Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal which, if successful, would lift harsh US sanctions on Iran.
The incident involving the Mercer Street took place days before Ebrahim Raisi is due to be inaugurated as Iran’s eighth president on Thursday. The hardline judge has promised to work to restore the accord, unilaterally abandoned by the US in 2018, but the fate of the deal is still unclear as several key issues remain unsolved.
A seventh and potentially final round of talks in Austria’s capital, Vienna, is expected to commence soon after Raisi assumes office.
Observers expect Iran and the US to be at odds over which sanctions should be lifted and how, and how Tehran needs to scale back down its nuclear programme that has significantly expanded after the US abandonment of the nuclear deal.