The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman called on all parties to be vigilant against the spread of fake news, given the contradictory news about maritime security in the region.
Khatibzadeh categorically dismissed as “untrue” the reports circulated by Western and Israeli media about the involvement of Iran’s Armed Forces in the incident.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman’s remarks came after the British authorities claimed that the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess oil tanker had been hijacked, and said they were “working on the assumption Iranian military or proxies boarded the vessel” in the Sea of Oman.
Khatibzadeh had earlier described as “suspicious” a number of reported security incidents involving ships in the Persian Gulf region and warned against any effort to create a “vicious atmosphere to pursue certain political goals”.
Khatibzadeh said Iran pursues the policy of establishing security and stability in the region, adding that the Islamic Republic provides naval support for vessels passing through the strategic waters in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
“Iran’s naval forces are ready to provide naval support, if needed, to transit ships in the region,” he said. “In case of problems in navigation systems, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to provide assistance and investigate the matter closely.”
In a relevant development on Monday, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned Britain’s chargé d’affaires and Romania’s ambassador to convey to them Tehran’s strong protest at the false accusations leveled against the Islamic Republic in relation with the Thursday attack on an Israeli-owned ship in the Sea of Oman.
In the first meeting, the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Third Western European Bureau expressed regret over baseless allegations raised by the British foreign secretary, saying, “These remarks, which were made in a hasty manner and without providing any proof or evidence, are rejected and strongly condemned.”
The Iranian official added, “This is not the first time that the UK has leveled hasty accusations without evidence against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The country has previously accused Iran of certain moves, which were never proved and no evidence has been ever provided to substantiate them.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry official said the source of instability in the Persian Gulf is not Iran, but the presence of ships and troops of extra-regional countries in the region, adding, “Iran has always considered the Persian Gulf a safe waterway for safe passage of ships, and has made efforts to establish and bolster security there.”
The British envoy promised to relay Iran’s protest to his respective country as soon as possible.
In the second summoning on Monday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Director General for Mediterranean and Eastern European Affairs talked to Romanian ambassador in Tehran, rejecting the illegal and unacceptable allegations leveled by Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs against the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian official urged the Romanian diplomat to convey the Islamic Republic’s strong protest over the issue to his country’s officials.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry official said some countries intend to create insecurity and chaos in international arena by orchestrating such measures, noting that other states must remain vigilant in the face of such plots.
He emphasized Iran’s principled policy, whose ultimate goal is to ensure maritime security in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and international waters.
The Romanian ambassador, for his part, said he would immediately convey the Iranian government’s protest to the respective officials of his country.
The Iranian foreign ministry strongly deplored the “baseless” allegations raised by Britain and the US about Iran’s involvement in an attack on an Israeli ship as “provocative” and “deeply regretting”, and warned them that it would not hesitate to give an immediate and powerful response to any hostile action.
The allegations of involvement in an attack on a ship off the coasts of Oman levelled by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and its repetition by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken are “paradoxical, provocative, baseless and deeply regretting” and are strongly condemned by Iran, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.
He added that Raab made such statements in a coordinated move with his American counterpart without presenting any evidence, and voiced surprise that the two top diplomats first raised allegations against Iran and then talked of the “possibility” of Iran’s involvement.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a defender and supporter of safe and harmless shipping in the Persian Gulf and international waters, while it has the longest water borders in the Persian Gulf and is always ready to cooperate on providing maritime security with the regional countries,” the spokesman stressed.
Meanwhile, he said that Iran considers the presence and intervention of trans-regional powers in the waters of the Persian Gulf and the littoral states as dangerous to the stability and security of the region.
“It is unfortunate that these countries (Britain and the US) have kept mum and actually supported the terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage against the Iranian commercial ships in the Red Sea and international waters, and now in a clearly politically-motivated move they have raised false allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran. If these countries have any evidence to prove their false claims, they should present it,” the spokesman said.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not hesitate in protecting its security and national interests and will respond to any possible adventurous move immediately powerfully and seriously,” Khatibzadeh concluded.
In relevant remarks on Monday, Iranian First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri disclosed that Washington and Tel Aviv have raided Iranian ships in international waters during Donald Trump’s presidency and damaged 12 Iranian oil tankers in bomb attacks.
“Trump and his team stood to prevent us from selling even one barrel of oil,” Jahangiri said, addressing a meeting of high-ranking directors and managers of President Rouhani’s administration in Tehran on Monday.
“They exploded or damaged 12 of our oil tankers. The Israelis stepped onto one of our oil tankers and exploded it,” he added.
In April, the Iranian foreign ministry confirmed a blast at the country’s logistical ship, Saviz, in the Red Sea.
“According to a previous official announcement and coordination with the International Maritime Organization as the reference body, the Saviz civilian ship was stationed in the Red Sea region,” Khatibzadeh said on April 7.
“This ship practically acted as a logistics station of Iran in the Red Sea, and therefore specifications and mission of this ship had previously been officially announced to the organization,” the spokesman noted.
Meantime, a US official told The New York Times that Israel notified the US that Israeli forces attacked the Iranian ship around 7:30 a.m. local time on April 6.
After such attacks, Israeli officials raised allegations against Iran, claiming the country’s involvement in attacks against the Israeli-owned ships.
In a latest case, an oil tanker operated by an Israeli-owned company came under attack off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, the British military said Friday, with the company later confirming the reports.
The vessel is operated by Zodiac Maritime, a London-based company belonging to Israeli tycoon Eyal Ofer.
Israeli officials have claimed without citing any proof that the attack appeared to have been carried out by several unmanned Iranian drones that crashed into living quarters underneath the ship’s command center, or bridge.
The Iranian foreign ministry dismissed Israel’s claim that Tehran has attacked an Israeli ship near Oman, describing it a childish blame game.
“The illegitimate existence of the Quds occupying regime should desist from raising baseless allegations. It is not the first time that the regime raises such allegations. These allegations are childish and within the framework of the rented and famous lobby of the Quds occupying regime,” Khatibzadeh told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Sunday.
“The officials of the Zionist regime should know that they cannot cure their pains with such blame games,” he added.
Khatibzadeh said that the Israeli regime is passing bitter days of its life and puts the blame of its problems on others, and added, “Wherever the Quds occupying regime has set its foot, it has brought insecurity, violence, terror and war, and for this reason, those who paved the ground for the regime’s presence in this region should be blamed.”