WASHINGTON - The United States "strongly condemned" Iran for attempting to transfer weapons to Gaza Monday, a White House spokesperson said Monday.
Israel seized a Gaza-bound shipment of long range missiles, bullets and mortars from an Iranian arms ship in the Red Sea last Wednesday, and showcased the cache to diplomats in world media Monday in an attempt to use the incident to prove that despite its attempt to thaw relations with the West, Iran has remained a hostile regime.
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In its first official condemnation of the incident, Washington stressed Monday that besides diplomatic talks with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, the US would work to curb the Islamic republic's "continued support for terrorist organizations."
White House spokesperson Jay Carney stressed in this regard that "even as we continue efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy, we will continue, in coordination with our partners and allies, to push back against Iranian support for terrorism, threats against our friends and partners and violations of human rights."
Carney issued a strong condemnation of the attempt, blaming Iran for attempting to arm terrorist groups in the region and threaten Israel's security.
"We were very clear about our views on the ship that was interdicted and the fact that we condemn in the strongest terms Iran's efforts to supply terrorist organizations operating in the region with weaponry… and posed a direct threat to the security of Israel."
Iran has been holding talks with western powers over its disputed nuclear program. After Iran elected moderate President Hassan Rouhani, the Islamic republic entered negations with the international community, and last November reached an interim deal to put a cap on its nuclear program in return for a reduction of sanctions against its ailing economy.
Earlier this week, the EU's foreign policy chief Baroness Catharine Ashton flew to Iran for a landmark visit, symbolizing the dramatic thaw in relations between the previously pariah country to the West. The visit inspire the ire of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who urged Ashton to ask Iran about the arms shipment.
Following his comments to Ashton, Netanyahu claimed Monday in a showcase event organized in Eilat which "the international community wants to ignore Iran's continued aggression and the part it plays in the execution of the massacre in Syria. They want to delude themselves that Iran has abandoned its intention to obtain nuclear weapons."
According to the prime minister, Iran's guise feeds a larger moral hypocrisy prevalent today and urged the world to use this event to see the true nature of Iran's intentions.
Netanyahu continued and drew a parallel between Iran's bid to conceal weapons on the ship and its bid to achieve nuclear arms: "Like Iran hid these weapons, Iran is hiding its nuclear program. The world must awake and prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons."