US and G7 Blame Iran for Deadly Attack on Tanker Off Oman

The US military and the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations accused Iran of being behind a deadly attack on an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea.

In this image provided by Maxar Technologies, the oil tanker Mercer Street is seen off the coast of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on 4 August. The United States, United Kingdom, and Israel blame Iran for an attack on the Mercer Street off Oman that killed two people amid tensions over Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers. Iran has denied being involved.
Credit: Maxar Technologies via AP.

The US military and the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations accused Iran of being behind a deadly attack on an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea.

The US Central Command said it had collected and analyzed substantial evidence that the 29 July attack on the HV Mercer Street in international waters in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman that killed two people was carried out by an Iranian drone loaded with a military-grade explosive.

“US experts concluded based on the evidence that this UAV was produced in Iran,” it said, using the military term for an “unmanned aerial vehicle.”

Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward identified the drone as a Shahed-136 UAV, telling reporters after the UN Security Council discussed the tanker attack behind closed doors that “these are manufactured only in Iran.”

Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States said the attack was “a clear violation of international law.” They added that “all available evidence clearly points to Iran.” Iran has denied being involved.

Iran’s deputy ambassador at the United Nations, Zahra Ershadi, told reporters her government “categorically” rejects the accusation, first made by Israel.

She accused Israel of trying to divert world opinion from its “crimes and inhumane practices in the region,” claiming it has attacked over 10 commercial vessels in less than 2 years, threatening maritime security and disrupting freedom of navigation.

Israel’s defense minister threatened to use force against Iran, and Ershadi responded saying, “Iran will not hesitate to defend itself and secure its national interests.”

Central Command said the ship had been targeted by three drones but that the first two were unsuccessful. “The investigative team determined that the extensive damage to the Mercer Street ... was the result of a third UAV attack.”

It said the drone attack had caused an approximately 6-ft-diameter hole in the pilot house of the vessel and had badly damaged the interior. It said an analysis of the explosive concluded that the drone had been rigged “to cause injury and destruction.”

Left unsaid in the Central Command report was that the triangle-shaped Delta wing drones used in the Mercer Street attack were also used in 2019 strikes on the heart of the Saudi oil industry, which temporarily halved the kingdom’s production and sent markets spiking.

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