The United Kingdom and the United States accused Iran on Sunday of being behind a fatal drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea.
The remarks came after Israel blamed Iran for the attack, putting further pressure on Tehran as it denied being involved in the attack.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called it an “illegal and insensitive attack” and said his country and its allies planned a coordinated response to Thursday night’s attack on the Mercer Street oil tanker.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken soon followed suit, saying that “there was no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior.”
The attack on Mercer Street marked the first known fatal attack after years of assaults on commercial shipping in the region linked to tensions with Iran over its ruined nuclear deal.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran and its allied militiamen have used so-called “suicide” drones in previous attacks, which hit targets and detonate their explosive charges. However, Israel, the UK and the responding US Navy have yet to show physical evidence of the attack or offer intelligence on why they blame Tehran.
London denounces ‘violation of international law’
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett went further than Blinken and Raab in their remarks Sunday at a cabinet meeting, making a point to look directly at the camera and slowly warn: “We know, in any case, how to get the message across. to Iran our way. “
The drone strike opened a hole in the top of the tanker’s bridge, where the captain and crew command the vessel, a US official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the investigation into the attack was still ongoing. The explosion killed two crew members from the UK and Romania.
The Navy said the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher had escorted Mercer Street as it headed to a safe harbor. On Sunday, satellite tracking information from MarineTraffic.com showed the tanker stopped off the coast of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.
In his statement, Raab said it was “very likely” that Iran would attack the tanker with one or more drones.
“We believe that this attack was deliberate, targeted and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” he said. “Iran must end those attacks and the ships must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law.”
Blinken similarly described the United States as “confident” that Iran carried out the attack, using multiple drones.
“These actions threaten the freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, shipping and international trade, and the lives of those traveling on the ships involved,” it said in a statement.
Iran criticizes ‘unfounded’ accusations
Earlier, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described the accusation that Iran carried out the attack as “unfounded”.
“It is not the first time that the Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem has made such empty accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Khatibzadeh said. “Wherever this regime has gone, it has taken with it instability, terror and violence.”
He added: “He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.”
Khatibzadeh spoke about an hour after Iran’s outgoing president acknowledged that his government sometimes “did not tell part of the truth” to the public during his tenure.
From Jerusalem, Bennett offered his condolences to both the UK and Romania for the murder of their citizens. He said Israeli intelligence had evidence linking Iran to the attack, but did not offer it.
“Iran is the one who carried out the attack on the ship,” he said. “Iran’s aggressive behavior is dangerous not only for Israel, but it damages global interests in freedom of navigation and international trade.”
Other ships linked to Israel have also been attacked in recent months amid a shadow war between the two nations, with Israeli officials blaming the Islamic Republic for the attacks. Shipping in the region began to be a target in the summer of 2019, about a year after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal with world powers.
Meanwhile, Israel is suspected of carrying out a series of major attacks in Iran and against Iranian shipping. Additionally, Iran recently saw its largest warship sink under mysterious circumstances in the nearby Gulf of Oman.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism