Iran attacks Israeli ship with explosive drones, Blinken says; US response forthcoming

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken blamed Iran for a Friday drone attack on the Israeli-owned oil tanker Mercer Street, which resulted in the death of two people. Blinken said the U.S. and other international partners to determine an appropriate response.

“We join our partners and allies in our strong condemnation of the attack against the Mercer Street, a commercial ship that was peacefully transiting through the north Arabian Sea in international waters,” Blinken said. “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.”

Mercer Street was operated by Zodiac Maritime, an international ship management company headquartered in London and led by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer.

The attack, which took place off the coast of Oman, resulted in the death of one United Kingdom national and a Romanian national, CNN reported.

“There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior,” Blinken said. “These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, international shipping and commerce, and the lives of those on the vessels involved.”

Blinken added, “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. We once again offer our condolences to the families of the victims.”

On Sunday, U.K. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab also said, “UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV MERCER STREET in international waters off Oman using one or more Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.”

Raab tweeted, “UK believes the attack on MV MERCER STREET was carried out by Iran and was deliberate, targeted and unlawful. The UK calls on Iran to immediately cease actions that risk regional & international peace & security.”

On Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted, “For the past two days, I have also spoken to the Secretary of State @SecBlinken And also with my colleagues around the world on the subject of the Iranian attack. The murderous regime in Iran and the terrorist acts it exports are a global threat. I am glad that both the US and the UK condemn these terrorist acts.”

Lapid further said, “The threat from the terrorist regime in Iran will only increase after the rise to power of the ‘executioner from Tehran’ Raisi. The whole world needs to put up a wall in a form – political and security – against Iran. Israel will continue the dialogue with its allies around the world and work together on the necessary steps against Iranian terrorism.”

Iran’s newly elected president, Ebrahim Raisi, previously served as a member of Iran’s prosecution committee, which the Guardian reported was responsible for sending as many as 3,000 accused Iranian criminals and dissidents to be executed in 1988. The prosecuting committee earned the nickname of the “Death Committee” by opponents of the Iranian regime and by some in western media.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told the Iranian state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, that the accusations by Israel, the U.S. and U.K. are baseless and said “the illegitimate occupying regime must put an end to false accusations against Iran.”