After first balking at blaming Iran, the British government has now said that it does believe the Iranians were behind the drone attack on an Israeli-operated tanker in the Gulf of Oman last week.
After a number of close calls in what has been an escalation between Iran, other Arab countries, and the State of Israel out on the high seas in recent years, this marked the first time that an attack caused fatalities.
On Thursday night, The Mercer Street, a Japanese-owned tanker flying a Liberian flag, was attacked by drones. One broke through the top of the oil tanker’s bridge killing two crew members, including a veteran of the British military. The ship is managed by London-based Zodiac Maritime, which is owned by the Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab just released an official statement on the matter saying, “We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran. UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street in international waters off Oman on 29 July using one or more Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.”
“The UK condemns the unlawful and callous attack committed on a merchant vessel off the coast of Oman, which killed a British and a Romanian national. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of those killed in the incident,” added Raab.
Raab also went on to demand that, “Iran must end such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law. The UK is working with our international partners on a concerted response to this unacceptable attack.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is confident that Iran is behind the attack.
The Iranian government has denied any involvement in the attack. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called the allegations that Iran was behind the drone baseless. He added that this is, “not the first time that the Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem has made such empty accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Wherever this regime has gone, it has taken instability, terror, and violence with it.”
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had already accused the Iranians of being behind the attack. Earlier today he told the Israel cabinet that, “the world recently received a reminder of Iranian aggression, this time on the high seas. The Iranians, who attacked the ship ‘Mercer Street’ with unmanned aerial vehicles, intended to attack an Israeli target. Instead, their act of piracy led to the deaths of a British citizen and a Romanian citizen.”
“I determine, with absolute certainty – Iran carried out the attack against the ship. Iran’s thuggishness endangers not only Israel but also harms global interests, namely freedom of navigation and international trade,” declared Bennet.
“The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake. In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way,” Bennet stated ominously.