US 'Confident' Iran is Behind Mercer Street Tanker Attack, Vows 'Appropriate Response'
17:35 GMT 01.08.2021 (Updated: 20:40 GMT 01.08.2021)
© REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNSTU.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his plane to depart for his return to the United States from Kuwait International Airport in Kuwait City, Kuwait, July 29, 2021
© REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNST
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed earlier that Tel Aviv has evidence proving that Tehran was behind the attack on an oil tanker, Mercer Street, on 30 July off the Omani island of Masirah.
The US is confident that Iran was behind the attack on the Mercer Street oil tanker off Oman's coast on 30 July, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated, citing "available information". He added that there could be no justification for this act and vowed an "appropriate response" by the US without delving into specifics.
"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 said.
The statement follows the UK and Israel both accusing Tehran of launching a strike against the oil taker, killing two of its crew, a British national and a Romanian citizen, in the process. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the incident an "unlawful and callous attack", adding that the UK and its allies are planning a coordinated response to the attack on the tanker.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier called on the international community to respond to what he claims was an Iranian attack on the tanker, which is owned by a British company.
"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", the Israeli prime minister said.
Iran strongly rejected the accusations, calling them "baseless". It further questioned the credibility of Israeli statements regarding the attack, stressing that "wherever this regime has gone, it has taken instability, terror, and violence with it".
Attack on the Tanker
The MV Mercer Street oil tanker is operated by UK-based Zodiac Maritime, which is in turn part of the Zodiac Group, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. The freighter was sailing past the Omani island of Masirah on 30 July, when it suffered a blast of unknown origin that left a hole in the top of the tanker's bridge.
The blast killed two crew members. The US Central Command alleged in a statement that a one-way explosive drone was used in the attack on the vessel.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher later escorted the damaged tanker to the nearest safe port for repairs. It reportedly cast anchor near the UAE port of Fujairah.