Tehran has responded to US accusations that it is supplying weapons and tactical intelligence to a Yemeni rebel group.
Tehran has denied US claims of “deep involvement” in attacks by Houthi rebels on merchant ships in the Red Sea, amid reports that another Israeli-affiliated merchant ship had been hit.
Iran's deputy foreign minister rejected the allegations on Saturday, saying the Houthis were acting on their own.
The Houthis, who control large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, have launched more than 100 drone and missile strikes targeting 10 merchant ships in the Red Sea, the Pentagon said. The organization said the attacks were carried out in support of Palestinians facing Israeli bombardment in Gaza.
The White House said Friday that Tehran's support for the Yemeni rebel group includes both weapons and tactical intelligence.
“Resistance [Houthis] It has its own tools… and acts according to its own decisions and capabilities,” Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Mehr told the news agency.
“The fact that some powers like the Americans and Israelis are vulnerable to strikes by the resistance movement… should not in any way question the reality of the strength of the resistance in the region,” he added.
Tehran says it supports the Houthis politically but denies sending the group weapons.
The Iranian statements came after White House national security spokesman Adrian Watson on Friday called the situation in the Red Sea “an international challenge that demands collective action.”
“We know that Iran is deeply involved in planning operations against merchant shipping in the Red Sea,” Watson said in a statement.
“This is Iran's long-standing material support and encouragement of the Houthis' destabilizing activities in the region.”
The White House said visual analysis showed similarities between Iran's KAS-04 drones and unmanned aerial vehicles used by the Houthis and between Iranian and Houthi missiles.
Al Jazeera could not independently verify the White House's claims.
Al Jazeera correspondent Resul Serdar, reporting from Djibouti, insists the Houthis have “proved very effective” their own intelligence facilities over the years.
“However, US officials insist that the Houthis do not have radars and must rely on technology provided by Iran. Otherwise, these missiles launched by the Houthis will fall into the water,” Serdar added.
On Saturday, a Liberian-flagged chemical tanker became the latest vessel to be attacked, but no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
British maritime security firm Ambre and the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said the vessel was hit by an unmanned aerial vehicle about 200 km (120 miles) southwest of Veraval, India.
“Some structural damage was also reported and some water was taken on board. The ship docked with Israel. She last called at Saudi Arabia and was summoned to India at that time,” the company said on its website.
Houthi attacks have effectively disrupted much of world trade
More than a dozen shipping companies, including the Italo-Swiss Mediterranean Shipping Company, France's CMA CGM and Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, have suspended traffic through the Red Sea because of the attacks.
Washington announced earlier this week the launch of a multinational force involving more than 20 countries to protect ships crossing the Red Sea.
Last week, a US guided-missile destroyer shot down 14 attack drones believed to have been launched from Yemen's Houthi-held areas.
The Houthi leadership has warned of retaliation against “US warships” and “US interests” if they are attacked.