Iran espionage-linked ship attacked at sea
An Iranian military ship linked to alleged spying activities was attacked Tuesday by Israeli forces as it was stationed in the Red Sea, according to U.S. and Iranian officials.
Pentagon spokesperson Commander Jessica McNulty said in a statement to The Hill that the U.S. was “aware of media reporting of an incident involving the Saviz in the Red Sea.”
“We can confirm that no U.S. forces were involved in the incident,” McNulty continued, adding, “We have no additional information to provide.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that Iranian officials also confirmed the attack, and a U.S. official who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity said the Israelis had notified the U.S. that they had attacked the vessel, which U.S. officials and others believe is being used for espionage activities by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The U.S. official who spoke to the Times said Israel had labeled the Tuesday attack as a retaliatory measure following earlier strikes on Israeli vessels by Iranian forces.
The official reportedly said that the Saviz was attacked below the water line Tuesday, though the exact location of the military vessel was not immediately clear.
The attack Tuesday is the latest development in a series of ongoing Israeli-Iranian skirmishes as Israel aims to limit Iran’s military influence in the Middle East.
Israel has since 2019 attacked ships carrying Iranian oil and weapons traveling through the eastern Mediterranean and Red Seas, and Iran has led its own attacks against Israeli-owned ships.
Tuesday’s attack came on the first day of renewed talks to bring Iran and the U.S. back into the 2015 nuclear agreement, which European diplomat Enrique Mora said Tuesday included “constructive” discussions.
President Biden has vowed to return to the agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which former President Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018.
Trump following his withdrawal imposed a maximum pressure campaign of sanctions on Iran, which Tehran responded to by repeatedly violating the terms of the nuclear agreement.
The nuclear deal specifically places limits on Iran’s nuclear activities to lengthen the amount of time the country would need to develop nuclear weapons, though Tehran has continued to argue that its nuclear development activities are solely for peaceful purposes.