US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-managed ship in the Arabian Sea last Friday, rejecting Iranian claims it was not responsible for the incident.
In a statement issued Sunday evening, Blinken said the US is “confident” that the drone attack which killed two crew members on the MV Mercer Street was carried out by Iran.
Blinken condemned Tehran for the attack, and vowed an “appropriate response” for the attack, to be made in conjunction with America’s allies.
“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,” said Blinken in the statement.
“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.”
“There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior. These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, international shipping and commerce, and the lives of those on the vessels involved.”
“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’s comments came just hours after British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also condemned the attack, with the British government backing Israel’s assertion that Tehran was responsible.
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,” the UK said.
The statement was released shortly after the IDF Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, spoke with his British counterpart, Sir Nick Carter, about the Iranian attack.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Iranian terrorism a “global threat”.
“In the past few days, I‘ve spoken with Secretary of State Blinken, Foreign Secretary Raab and colleagues around the world about this issue. The murderous regime in Iran and the terrorism it exports are a global threat,” Lapid said Sunday night.
“I am pleased that both the United States and the United Kingdom have condemned these terrorist acts. The threat posed by the terrorist regime in Iran will only increase when the ‘Butcher of Tehran’ Raisi becomes president.”
“Israel will continue to hold conversations with our allies around the world and work together to formulate the necessary steps to combat ongoing Iranian terror.”
On Friday, the Japanese-owned MV Mercer Street was struck by a drone aircraft, which apparently was flown intentionally into the vessel, setting off a deadly explosion.
Two crew members, one British, one Romanian, were killed in the attack.
The ship, which is operated by the London-based Zodiac Maritime company – owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer – was en route to the United Arab Emirates from Tanzania at the time of the attack.
Israel accused the Iranian government of carrying out the attack, a claim Tehran has rejected.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a veiled threat to Iran, hinting at a possible Israeli response.
“We know how to convey the message to Iran in our own way."