Iran 'considering all options' after ship 'sabotage'
According to multiple Iranian media outlets, the cargo ship Iran Shahr-e-Kord, owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines group (IRISL), was en route "toward Europe" when on March 10 its hull was hit with an explosive device.
"Given the location of the sabotage, there is every reason to think that the occupying regime in Jerusalem is behind this operation," said foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, referring to Israel in terms used by Iranian authorities.
"The aggressive behaviour of (Israel) reinforces this assumption," he told a press conference in the capital Tehran.
The Shahr-e-Kord was struck less than two weeks after Israel accused arch nemesis Iran, which does not recognise the Jewish state, of being behind an attack on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. Tehran has strongly denied the charges.
In a report published on March 11 that cited US and Middle East officials, the Wall Street Journal said Israel has targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria and mostly carrying Iranian oil since late 2019.
It said the Jewish state has used weapons including "water mines" to target the vessels.
Responding to a question by AFP in Jerusalem, Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said last week "we do not comment on reports by foreign media".
Israel sees Iran as an existential threat, accusing it of seeking an atomic bomb, which Tehran denies.
The United States blacklisted IRISL in mid-2020 over what the State Department described as the transportation of items related to Iran's missile and nuclear programme.