US and UK blame Iran for deadly attack on oil tanker off Oman | World Weekly
Update on US-Iran Tensions
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The United States and the United Kingdom have blamed Iran for a drone attack last night on an oil tanker in the Gulf that killed a Briton and a Romanian, an attack that threatened to escalate tensions between Tehran and the West.
In separate statements on Sunday, Washington and London said they were working with partners to respond to the attack on MV Mercer Street, operated by the Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime, as the incident occurred in international waters near Oman.
Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said Washington was “confident that Iran carried out this attack.” Such actions, he added, “threaten the freedom of navigation through this vital waterway, international navigation and trade and the lives of those on board the ships concerned.”
Dominic Raab, the UK’s foreign secretary, said Britain believed the attack “was deliberate, targeted and a clear violation of international law by Iran”.
“Iran must end such attacks, and ships must be allowed to move freely in accordance with international law,” Raab said. “The UK is working with our international partners on a coordinated response to this unacceptable attack.”
Israel has previously blamed Iran for the attack. On Sunday, Tehran dismissed Israel’s claims, with Iran’s Foreign Ministry warning Israel that “if you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.”
The two regional aggressors engaged in a war in which the two countries blamed the other for targeting their ships.
Iran also accused Israel of assassinating a senior nuclear scientist and attacking its main uranium enrichment site at the Natanz nuclear facility.
The British Foreign Office said “reports indicate” that since February at least three other ships linked to Israel have been attacked in the area.
She added that Iran was “almost certainly responsible” for the attacks on two ships in the Gulf of Oman in 2019. Those attacks shook the global shipping and oil industries as the waterways in the Gulf, especially the Strait of Hormuz, are vital and stifling trade routes. Point for crude oil exports from the oil-rich region.
The tanker attacks in 2019, which caused limited damage, occurred a year after Donald Trump, then US president, unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal that Tehran signed with world powers and imposed waves of devastating sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Hopes that tensions would abate were raised after the election of Joe Biden, who pledged that the United States would rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal if Iran returned to full compliance with the accord.
The Biden administration was indirectly negotiating with Tehran, which has held a series of talks with the remaining signatories to the agreement, namely the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.
But the deadly attack on the tanker threatened to complicate a complex and fragile operation.
Nuclear talks have in fact been suspended since Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric, won Iran’s presidential election in June. Raisi takes office this week, replacing Hassan Rouhani, the pragmatist who was the architect of the nuclear deal and completed his second and final term.
Raisi said he would continue negotiations on the nuclear deal. But with hardliners wary of engaging the West in complete control of all branches of the state, Iran will take a tougher line. Tehran insisted that Washington lift all sanctions before it scaled back its nuclear activities in line with the 2015 deal.
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