Blinken Warns Iran 'There Will Be a Collective Response' After Deadly Mercer Street Attack
18:30 GMT 02.08.2021 (Updated: 19:50 GMT 02.08.2021)
© REUTERS / JOHAN VICTORThe Mercer Street, a Japanese-owned Liberian-flagged tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime that was attacked off Oman coast as seen in Cape Town, South Africa, December 31, 2015 in this picture obtained from ship tracker website, MarineTraffic.com. Picture taken December 31, 2015. Johan Victor/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
© REUTERS / JOHAN VICTOR
Earlier, an Israeli-managed merchant ship named Mercer Street came under a drone attack that killed two of its crew members who were from the UK and Romania. Although Israel was quick to accuse Iran for the incident, it was not until Sunday that the US agreed and placed blame on the Middle Eastern nation.
The US Department of State informed the American public on Monday that it will be working alongside allies to organize a response against Iran for the recent deadly attack on the Mercer Street commercial ship.
Antony Blinken, who serves as US secretary of state, revealed to reporters during a Monday briefing that the US is working with the UK, Israel, Romania and "other allies" to come up with a "collective response" to the Mercer Street attack that unfolded as the commercial vessel was transiting the Arabian Sea.
"We are in very close contact and coordination with the UK, Israel [and] Romania," Blinken informed reporters, underscoring that "there will be a collective response" to the incident.
© AFP 2021 / KEVIN DIETSCHWASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Global Emerging Technology Summit on July 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Global Emerging Technology Summit on July 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.
However, he further acknowledged that he was unsure whether such a strike constituted as "anything new or augers anything one way or another for the new government [of Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi]," as Iran has been involved in a "series" of similar actions "over many months, including against shipping."
"What it does say is that Iran continues to act with tremendous irresponsibility when it comes to - in this instance - threats to navigation, to commerce, to innocent sailors who are simply engaged in commercial transit in international waters," he added.
Blinken's remarks largely reiterated comments he offered through a Sunday release that issued blame on Iran, and indicated that the based upon "available information," all signs allegedly pointed Iran as the culprit. "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," the statement read.
The US' condemnation against Iran was voiced despite the Iranian Foreign Ministry blasting accusations that it had anything to do with the strike, as well as Iranian leadership warning that it fully intends to respond "immediately and strongly" to any retaliatory moves taken against the Middle Eastern nation.
At the time, Saeed Khatibzadeh, who serves as a spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told the media that the US and the UK had made "contradictory, false and provocative accusations" the moment officials decided to lay blame on Iran for the July 29 attack.
Tensions between the involved parties were further heightened as reports detailed that Israel is either brainstorming a response or was already reportedly given a "green light" from the US and the UK to issue a "response" to the Mercer Street incident. The developments surfaced as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused Iran of being an "exporter of terror, destruction and instability."
© Photo : Twitter / OrHellerUnconfirmed image of the Mercer Street tanker provided by Or Heller, correspondent for Israel's Channel 10 News
Unconfirmed image of the Mercer Street tanker provided by Or Heller, correspondent for Israel's Channel 10 News
© Photo : Twitter / OrHeller
Photos documenting the damages on the Mercer Street have emerged online but have yet to be confirmed by officials. The images initially surfaced online after being shared by Or Heller, a reporter for the Israel's Channel 10 who echoed statements that Iran was at fault for the strike.
Earlier reports detailed that the commercial vessel had been escorted to a safe location by the US Navy and had the ability to function "under her own power." Publicly-available marine traffic data shows that Mercer Street is within the Gulf of Oman.