Iran rejects U.S., UK accusations over Israeli ship

August 2, 2021 - 20:32

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibazdeh has responded to allegations by U.S. and UK top diplomats against Iran about last week’s attack on an Israeli oil tanker off the coast of Oman. 

In a statement on Monday, Khatibzadeh said the statements issued by U.S. and UK top diplomats contain “contradictory” claims and “provocative and false accusations.” He condemned these statements and called them “deeply regrettable.”

“Such coordinated statements (from Britain and the U.S.) include contradictory phrases per se, in a way that they first level accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran without providing any evidence and document and then talk about the ‘possibility’ of this,” Khatibzadeh said. 

The spokesman described Iran as an advocate and supporter of the safe navigation of ships in the Persian Gulf and international waters, and said as a country that has the longest sea borders in the Persian Gulf, Iran is always prepared for cooperation with regional countries to ensure maritime security.

He also noted that Iran considers the presence and interference of the extra-regional forces in the Persian Gulf waters and its littoral states to be harmful to the region’s stability and security.

“It is a pity that these countries (the U.S. and Britain) have remained supportively silent about the terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage against Iranian trade vessels in the Red Sea and international waters, but have raised bogus allegations against Iran with political bias in a brazen manner. If these countries have any evidence for their bogus claims, they should present them,” he added. 

He also warned against any move by the UK and the U.S. against Iran in the wake of a mysterious attack on an Israeli-operated oil tanker off the coast of Oman. 

The Israeli-operated ship Mercer Street came under attack off the coast of Oman on Thursday while traveling from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah. The oil tanker, managed by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime, was reportedly attacked by suicide drones. Zodiac Maritime said two crewmen, a British and Romanian national, died in the attack.

“With profound sadness, we understand the incident onboard the M/T Mercer Street on 29 July, 2021 has resulted in the deaths of two crew members on board,” the UK-based Israeli company said in a statement on Friday afternoon, a day after the attack.

Israel, the U.S. and the UK blamed Iran for the attack without presenting any evidence to support their accusations.  

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed that Tel Aviv knows with certainty Iran attacked the Mercer Street ship and will respond to it. 

“I determine, with absolute certainty – Iran carried out the attack against the ship,” Bennett stated, according to the Jerusalem Post. “The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake.”

He noted, “In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way.”

The UK also followed suit. “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),” said a UK statement on Sunday. “The UK is working with our international partners on a concerted response to this unacceptable attack.”

London went so far as to summon the Iranian ambassador to the UK. “The Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Mohsen Baharvand, was summoned today to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office by the Minister for the Middle East, James Cleverly, in response to the unlawful attack committed on MV Mercer Street on 29 July,” the UK Foreign Office said in a statement. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also echoed the same allegations. “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,” he said in a statement on Sunday. 

In a thinly-veiled threat, Blinken said the U.S. was working with its allies to coordinate a response to Iran. “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,” Blinken said. 

Khatibzadeh warned that Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure.

In a tweet on Monday, the spokesman warned, "As guarantor of Persian Gulf security, Iran strongly condemns provocative & orchestrated UK/US statements. Having kept silent abt REPEATED terrorist attacks on IRANIAN ships, they now baselessly accuse IRAN. Any anti-Iran adventurism will receive IMMEDIATE & DECISIVE response."

Also, Iran summoned the UK chargé d'affaires given the fact that the UK ambassador to Iran is not in the country. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said the head of the Third Bureau of Western Europe at the ministry summoned the UK chargé d'affaires to express regret over the UK foreign secretary’s “baseless” accusation against Iran. 

“These rash contradictory and unfounded remarks are rejected and strongly condemned,” the head of the Third Bureau told the British diplomat. 

He added, “This is not the first rash and unfounded accusation by the UK against the Islamic Republic of Iran. This country has in the past leveled some accusations against Iran that were never proved and has not presented any evidence so far to support them.”

The Iranian diplomat noted, “Iran has always considered the Persian Gulf as a safe waterway for the safe passage of ships and has tried to establish and strengthen security in it. The source of instability in the Persian Gulf is not Iran but the presence of ships and military forces of extra-regional countries.”

While warning about any adventure on the part of Israel, he said the definite policy of the Islamic Republic is based on self-defense and decisively, timely, and proportionately responding to any adventure.

Leave a Comment