White House rebukes Iran for 'illicit actions'

The White House on Wednesday slammed Iran after the Israeli army intercepted a vessel carrying a concealed shipment of arms to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

"These illicit actions are unacceptable to the international community," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.

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"We continue to have enormous issues with Iran — its sponsor of terrorist organizations, its bad behavior in the region that manifests itself in many ways," he continued.

The White House said that Israeli and U.S. national security advisers, as well as intelligence and military officials, had coordinated on the issue. The Pentagon was also involved in developing potential unilateral steps after the U.S. became aware of the shipment.

Israeli officials, in a dossier provided to The Washington Post, said the shipment included Syrian-made surface-to-surface rockets that had been flown to Tehran from a weapons factory in Damascus. The shipment was then transported by sea from Iran to Iraq and then Sudan, where it was expected to be smuggled through Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the capture revealed "the true Iran."

“At a time when it is talking to the major powers, Iran smiles and says all sorts of nice things,” Netanyahu said. “The same Iran is sending deadly weapons to terrorist organizations and is doing so via a ramified network of secret operations in order to send rockets, missiles and other deadly weapons that will be used to harm innocent citizens.”

Carney told reporters the U.S. would continue to press for a negotiated deal to dismantle Iran's nuclear weapons program despite the development.

"We continue to take all the necessary steps to address those challenges, but it's entirely appropriate to continue to pursue the possibility of reaching a resolution on the nuclear program," Carney said.