U.K. and Iran in war of words over ꞌoutrageousꞌ oil tanker attack

Published : August 03, 2021 19:29 IST

The Mercer Street is believed to have been attacked by a drone, killing two. -Johan Victor/AP/picture alliance

Iran and the U.K. have clashed over a suspected drone attack on an oil tanker that killed two people. The U.S. secretary of state has promised a coordinated response.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Iran will have to "face the consequences" of its "unacceptable" drone attack on an Israeli-managed oil tanker off the Oman coast that killed two people. Later on August 2, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there would be "a collective response" to the "direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce,"

The Iranian foreign ministry, that had earlier denied it was behind the attack, warning it would "respond promptly to any possible adventurous actions."

What do we know so far?

The Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned oil tanker managed by Israeli company Zodiac Maritime was attacked on July 29 .

The U.S. Navy said the evidence "clearly pointed" to a drone attack as the cause of the two deaths on the tanker. Two crew members, a U.K. and a Romanian national, died on the ship which US Navy officials believe was hit by a drone.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Israel blamed Iran for the air strike, although Tehran denied having carried it out on Thursday. The U.K. summoned the Iranian ambassador in London on Monday. Iran did the same for the British Charge dꞌAffaires and Romaniaꞌs representative in Tehran over their countriesꞌ "accusations against the Islamic Republic."

The two deaths on the Mercer Street are the first reported fatalities since tensions began when Iran pulled out of its 2015 nuclear deal. It led to the West imposing harsh sanctions on the Middle Eastern power player, which have sparked internal tensions.

What has been said on the attack?

"Iran should face up to the consequences of what they've done," UK Prime Minister Johnson said on Monday. "This was clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping." "A U.K. 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," added Johnson.

In Washington, Blinken said he was now "confident that Iran carried out this attack" which follow "past incidents with explosive drones." The US Secretary of State added there was "no justification for this attack on a peaceful vessel" showing that Iran "continues to act with tremendous irresponsibility."

"We are in very close contact, in coordination, with the United Kingdom, Israel, Romania and other countries. And there will be a collective response," Blinken told reporters. Iran had hit back via Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry on Iranian state television.

"Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure," said Khatibzadeh.

An Iranian official told Nournews, which is close to the Iranꞌs National Security Council, that the Western and Israeli "threats" were "more of a propaganda gesture." "Washington and London will be directly responsible for the consequences," the unnamed official added.

jc/aw (Reuters, AP, AFP)

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor