Iran Says Container Ship Damaged by Blast in Mediterranean Sea

Iran said one of its container ships was damaged by an explosion in the Mediterranean Sea this week, the latest in a series of claims that’s fueling reports the Islamic Republic and Israel are targeting each other’s vessels.

An explosive device slightly damaged the hull of the Shahr E Kord in international waters on Wednesday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, calling it a “terrorist attack.” The crew contained a fire ignited by the blast and no one was hurt, it said, citing the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line Group.

The ship was on its way to Europe and would continue its journey after repairs, Tasnim said.

It was impossible to immediately confirm details of the report but it’s likely to heighten tensions in the region. They are already high as Iran and the U.S. remain locked in a stalemate over how to restore the 2015 nuclear deal that’s crumbled since then-President Donald Trump withdrew nearly three years ago.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for an attack on an Israeli-owned car carrier in the Gulf of Oman in February, an allegation that Tehran has denied.

Separately, Dow Jones reported on Thursday that since late 2019 Israel had targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria, mostly carrying Iranian oil, citing U.S. and regional officials it didn’t identify.

Hit by punishing U.S. sanctions, Iran has sought to salvage some of its oil income, sending cargoes to friendly countries using tactics that make it harder to track vessels including turning off ship-tracking signals.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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