The governments of the U.S., the UK and Israel have all pinned a Thursday night drone attack in the Arabian Sea on Iran.
The attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman killed two workers from the U.K. and Romania, according to The Associated Press. Israel was first to blame the attack on Tehran, and the top diplomats for the U.K. and the U.S. agreed in statements made Sunday. Iran has thus far denied any involvement.
IRAN: Photos tweeted by @OrHeller show the damage to the ‘Mercer Street’ vessel after an incident that Israel, the US, and the UK have called an Iranian drone attack. pic.twitter.com/TehS2ZoKP1
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) August 1, 2021
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday, “Iran is the one who carried out the attack against the ship. Iran’s aggressive behavior is dangerous not only for Israel, but harms global interests in the freedom of navigation and international trade.”
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK and its allies were planning a coordinated response to the strike, calling it “unlawful and callous.”
American Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement Sunday which said, “We are working with our partners to consider our next steps and consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response, which will be forthcoming.”
None of the three parties have yet presented evidence to the public implicating Iran. However, Tehran has increasingly deployed unmanned explosive drones to attack oil vessels in the region in recent months, consistent with the type reportedly used in this attack. (RELATED: US Mulls Additional Sanctions On Iran As Nuclear Deal Negotiations Stall: REPORT)
“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region,” Blinken added.
The U.S. Navy used the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Mitscher to escort the damaged ship, called the Mercer Street, to a safe port in the United Arab Emirates. The Mercer Street is owned by Japan’s Taihei Kaiun Co. and is managed by Zodiac Maritime, which is headed by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, according to AP.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called the allegations against Tehran “baseless” and blamed the international targeting of his regime on Israel. It’s not the first time that the Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem has made such empty accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. “Wherever this regime has gone, it has taken instability, terror and violence with it.” (RELATED: Another ‘Accident’ At Iranian Nuclear Facility Forces Emergency Shutdown)
In addition to the drone attacks suspected to have been carried out by Iran, it is widely believed that a string of recent attacks carried out on Iranian vessels are the responsibility of Israel. The attack on the Mercer Street is one of the first major naval provocations from Tehran since Bennett took office in Jerusalem.