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US vows to make Iran pay for tanker attack

International pressure mounted on Iran on Monday over a deadly attack on an Israeli-operated tanker off the coast of Oman.

A special UN Security Council session on maritime security was told that Iran was responsible for the attack, and would be held to account.

The tanker, the MT Mercer Street, was on its way from Tanzania to the UAE on July 29 when it was targeted by three Iranian-made drones laden with explosives. The attack killed the vessel’s Romanian captain and a British security guard.

The vessel is Liberian flagged, Japanese owned, and operated by Zodiac Maritime, a ship management company based in London and run by billionaire Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer.

The attack caused international outrage. Iran denied responsibility, but a report by US military experts concluded that the drones were Iranian.

The US investigation found that the Mercer Street was targeted unsuccessfully on July 29 by two drones, both of which were reported by the crew via distress calls. A third drone attack, on July 30, significantly damaged the ship and caused the two deaths. The investigation found the third drone was loaded with military-grade explosives, which created a 2-meter hole in the vessel’s crew accommodation.

The attack was “part of a pattern of attacks and other provocative behavior by Iran that threaten freedom of navigation, international shipping and commerce in addition to the cost in human lives,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Security Council on Monday.

“It is on all of our nations to hold accountable those responsible. Failing to do so will only fuel their sense of impunity and embolden others inclined to disregard the maritime order.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a new “special structure” within the UN system to fight maritime piracy, armed robbery, and terrorism.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the attack was “a clear violation of international law by Iran that not only threatens maritime security and the lives of seafarers, but is also a threat to the rules-based system the world depends upon for its maritime security. amid so much anxiety the international community needs to shore up that system.”

Source: Arab News

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