British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on the Iranian government to acknowledge that it was behind last week’s attack on a Japanese-owned tanker flying a Liberian flag. The Mercer Street was hit by a drone strike near the coast of Oman last Thursday night.
A UK national and a Romanian national who were members of the crew, were killed. The UK citizen was also a veteran of the British military.
תמונות ראשונות שמתפרסמות הערב מספינת המרסר סטריט שנפגעה בסופש סמוך לעומאן. ניתן לראות את הנזק שעשה בגשר הפיקוד של הספינה המלט המתאבד האיראני מסוג שאהד שהרג את הקפטן הרומני והמאבטח הבריטי. כרגע ישראל במתקפה דיפלומטית עם ארהב ובריטניה שקובעות הערב שמדובר בתקיפה איראנית. pic.twitter.com/bGilqZPZKU
— Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) August 1, 2021
The ship is managed by London-based Zodiac Maritime, owned by the Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.
In addition to the UK, the United States, Romania and Israel all blame Iran for the attack.
“I think that Iran should face up to the consequences of what they have done, accept the attribution that the Foreign Secretary has made,” Johnson said. “This was clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping. A UK national died.
“It is absolutely vital that Iran and every other country respects the freedoms of navigation around the world, and the UK will continue to insist on that,” Johnson added.
The statement comes a day after The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab released an official statement on the incident.
“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” Raab said. “UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street.”
British Middle East minister James Cleverly summoned Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Mohsen Baharvand, to a meeting on Monday. Cleverly called on Iran to “immediately stop destabilizing actions that seek to undermine international peace and security,” calling Iran’s attack on the Mercer Street as “callous and unacceptable.”
Tehran has denied any involvement in the attack.
Iran Summons British, Romanian Diplomats in Tehran
In response, Iran summoned the British Charge d’ Affaires and Romania’s top envoy in Tehran over their countries’ “accusations against the Islamic Republic”, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry threatened Monday to “respond promptly” to any “threat” against its security in the wake of the attack.
“Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to Iranian state television.
DM Gantz Vows Israel Will ‘Remove Any Such Threat’
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a strong warning to the Iranian regime on Monday during remarks addressed to the Knesset.
“In time, we will come to terms with anyone who seeks to harm us,” Gantz told Israeli lawmakers.
Warning that Iran will become an even greater existential threat to the State of Israel, Gantz emphasized that Israel will respond to the attack.
““We will work to remove any such threat,” Gantz stated.
“Iran’s aggression in the region generally and on the maritime front, in particular, is intensifying. This is the exact reason that we must act right now against Iran, which not only strives for a nuclear military [program] but also is leading to a dangerous arms race and the crumbling of stability in the Middle East.
“In the past year, there have been no less than five Iranian attacks on international ships, some using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) made by Iranian military industry. Iranian drones have also attacked oil plants in Saudi Arabia,” Gantz pointed out.
The defense minister told lawmakers that there are “hundreds of Iranian UAVs in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and other countries. In the past year, there have been no less than five Iranian attacks on international ships, some using UAVs manufactured by the Iranian military industry.
“Iran under the hangman [President Ebrahim] Raisi, who will take office this week, will be more dangerous and destructive to the region than it has been so far and will strive to become an existential threat to Israel,” Gantz warned.
Israeli PM: ‘Cowardly’ Iran Trying to Duck Responsibility
Speaking to the government coalition on Sunday (Aug. 1) in his opening remarks to the weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he had “just heard that Iran, in a cowardly manner, is trying to evade responsibility for the event. They are denying this.”
“The intelligence evidence for [Iranian involvement in the attack] 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,” Bennett added, “we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way. Iran’s thuggishness endangers not only Israel, but also harms global interests, namely freedom of navigation and international trade.”
TPS contributed to this report.