WASHINGTON, March 7 (UPI) -- The Pentagon said Iran should be held accountable for destabilizing the Middle East even while diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear dispute are under way.
Israeli naval forces in the Red Sea intercepted a vessel Wednesday carrying medium-range missiles. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the missiles made the trip from Syria to Iran and were to go on to militants in Gaza.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was quoted as saying the shipment provided proof that terrorists in Gaza were working with Iran to "strike deep into Israel."
Kirby said the U.S. defense secretary spoke with Ya'alon. "[Hagel] reiterated the United States' commitment to holding Iran accountable for its destabilizing activities in the region, even as we continue efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy," the spokesman said in a statement.
Iran and Western leaders are working to resolve long-standing issues over Iran's nuclear program, which it says is for peaceful purposes.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian told Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency the Israeli missile claims were baseless.
"This allegation is merely based on repetitious and baseless fabrications of the Zionist [Israeli] media," he said Friday.