Both U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the Iranian regime for a drone attack on a commercial vessel sailing in the Sea of Oman on Thursday that killed two sailors.
Last July 29, the Mercer Street, an oil tanker operated by the Israeli company Zodiac Maritime, was attacked by ‘suicide drones’ at sea near Oman.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the ship was heading from Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) to Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) when it was reportedly attacked by a drone northeast of the Omani island of Masirah.
The first drone failed to damage the ship, but the second hit the crew lounge, and as a result, a Romanian captain and a British security officer were killed.
‘Suicide drones’ are unmanned aerial vehicles with explosive charges that explode when they land on target. Iran has increased its capabilities in recent years and has UAVs with a range of more than 1,600 km, types that can carry missiles, and others that can be programmed to carry out precision attacks by crashing into targets.
According to Israeli intelligence, this technology is used by terrorist groups funded and directed by the Iranian regime, which launches its attacks indirectly using groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad in Palestine, the Houthis, etc.
“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,” Secretary Blinken said.
For his part, the British foreign secretary said that “The UK condemns the unlawful and callous attack committed on a merchant vessel off the coast of Oman, which killed a British and a Romanian national. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of those killed in the incident.”
“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran. UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street in international waters off Oman on 29 July using one or more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).”
Tehran denies involvement in the attack.
The condemnation by the United States could well mean a move away from the possible nuclear deal that Iran is demanding the Biden administration to sign and which former President Trump annulled, claiming that the agreement only gave the regime the money it needed to increase its nuclear armament further.
At the same time, both the UK and the U.S. are looking at what steps to take in response to the Iranian attack.
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,” Blinken said.
According to an editorial in the Jerusalem Post, Iranian drones and drone technology are now a major emerging threat. From Lebanon, all the way through Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf and then to the Gulf of Oman and Yemen, extending thousands of miles and potentially endangering U.S. ships and forces and many allies and partners.
Iran may be signaling that it will strike using drones at sea, claiming they are responses to Israeli strikes in Syria or elsewhere.