Iran said on Thursday that it will "without a doubt" respond to the widely reported attack on an Iranian military vessel in the Red Sea that occurred Tuesday. A spy vessel later identified as the Saviz was damaged in the incident, with the The New York Times alleging that Israel was behind a naval mine attack.
Anonymous US officials had told Reuters the US did not conduct the attack; however, in Thursday's statement a top Iranian general indicated that Tehran believes both Israel and the United States were behind the Red Sea mine attack. This after Israel appears to have owned up to it according to a US official's statement to the Times.
"We will respond without any doubt to the attack on our ship Saviz in the Red Sea once we identify those involved," Iran's military spokesman Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi said to Sputnik Arabic.
"The US is undoubtedly involved in all attempts to undermine and harm Iran," Shekarchi added.
Iranian state media has reported that there were no casualties and only "minor damage" caused by limpet mines attached to the hull. Iranian sources are also calling the Saviz a "civilian ship". But the AP has reported it was damaged below it's waterline, suggesting much more severe damage.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry statement said as much: "The Saviz civilian ship was stationed in the Red Sea region and the Gulf of Aden to establish maritime security along the shipping lanes and to counter piracy,” a spokesman said. "This ship practically acted as a logistics station (technical support and logistics) of Iran in the Red Sea, and therefore the specifications and mission of this ship had previously been officially announced."
The Jerusalem Post reports that "While officially listed as a merchant ship, the Saviz was likely a covert IRGC forward base," based on Israeli defense and intelligence officials.
Latest on Saviz from @jongambrellAP: “While the previous attacks on shipping targeted only commercial vessels and caused cosmetic damage above the waves, Tuesday’s blast apparently blew through the hull of the Saviz below its waterline.” https://t.co/zX4NTHZSlw— Henry Rome (@hrome2) April 8, 2021
As we've noted before, it appears Israel is getting increasingly brazen in its covert sabotage campaign targeting Iran and its operations abroad - especially as the Biden White House seeks a way forward with the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA).
Netanyahu appears willing now to take major risks in conducting destabilizing actions ultimately aimed at blowing up the possibility of Washington rejoining the JCPOA.