Iran has previously described the Saviz as aiding “anti-piracy” efforts in the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial choke point in international shipping. A statement attributed to Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described the vessel as a commercial vessel.
“Fortunately, no casualties have been reported … and technical investigations are ongoing,” Khatibzadeh said. “Our country will take all necessary measures through the international authorities.”
In a previous state television statement, a newscaster quoted a New York Times article, which quoted an unnamed U.S. official telling the newspaper that Israel informed America that it carried out an attack on Tuesday morning on the ship. Israeli officials declined to comment on the assault when contacted by The Associated Press, as did the owner of Saviz.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, while declining to say whether his country launched the attack, described Iran and its regional allies as a major threat.
“Israel must continue to defend itself,” Gantz told reporters. “Wherever we find an operational challenge and a necessity, we will continue to act.”
Iranian semi-official Tasnim news agency, which is said to be close to the Guard, reported that a limpet mine placed on Saviz’s hull caused the explosion. A limpet mine is a type of naval mine attached to the side of a ship, usually by a diver. It later explodes and can seriously damage a ship. Iran blamed no one for the attack and said Iranian officials would likely offer more information in the days to come.
In a statement, the US Army Central Command only said it was aware of media reports of an incident involving the Saviz and that US forces were not involved.
At the United Nations, spokesman Stéphane Dujarric expressed concern over the Saviz incident and urged “the parties concerned, including the countries of the region, to exercise the utmost restraint and to refrain from any escalation and, in particular, to respect their obligations under international law. “
Also on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described the Vienna talks as “a success” when addressing his cabinet.
“Today we hear a joint statement that all parties to the nuclear deal have concluded that there is no better solution than the deal,” he said.
A European diplomat familiar with the talks, speaking on condition of anonymity to frankly discuss the closed-door meeting in Vienna, acknowledged that external events could affect the negotiations.
“We hope that every action, whether it comes from parties (of the nuclear deal) or from external parties, will not undermine the momentum,” he said.