On March 1st, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was “winning against Iran.”
He blamed Iran for the explosion at the Israeli-flagged vehicle carrier in the Gulf of Oman.
“This is indeed an action by Iran, it is clear,” the prime minister told the Kan public broadcaster.
Asked whether Israel would respond to the attack on the ship, Netanyahu said that Iran “is Israel’s biggest enemy and we are striking them across the region.”
The prime minister added that Israel has told the United States that Jerusalem will not allow Tehran to have nuclear weapons, no matter what the terms of the JCPOA are.
Iran responded to Netanyahu’s statement, saying it “strongly rejects” the accusation that it was behind the attack. In a press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Netanyahu was “suffering from an obsession with Iran” and described his charges as “fear-mongering.”
Iran blames Israel for a recent series of attacks, including a mysterious explosion last summer that destroyed an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program two decades ago. Iran has repeatedly vowed to avenge Fakhrizadeh’s killing.
Iran also said that it was unwilling to sit down with the US in unofficial negotiations to try and salved the JCPOA. The Biden administration lifted some of the UN-imposed sanctions, that the Trump administration reinstated, but refuses to lift many others that Tehran says need to go before any negotiation can take place.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said it was not an appropriate time for the talks proposed by the European Union.
“Considering the recent actions and statements by the United States and three European powers, Iran does not consider this the time to hold an informal meeting with these countries, which was proposed by the EU foreign policy chief,” spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh was quoted by Iranian media as saying.
The US said it was disappointed but that it remained ready to “re-engage in meaningful diplomacy” on the issue.
A White House spokesman said the US would now consult with other parties to the nuclear deal – the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – “on the best way forward”.
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