Iran’s embassy in UK rejects British diplomat assessment on Israeli ship

August 8, 2021 - 18:51

TEHRAN – The Iranian embassy in the UK has reacted to allegations by UK envoy to the UN Barbara Woodward that Iran was responsible for the attack on an Israeli-operated ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. 

Woodward repeated earlier accusations that Iran has attacked Israel’s Mercer Street. “The UK knows that Iran was responsible for this attack. We know it was deliberate and targeted. There is no justification for what happened,” she said, accusing Iran of disregarding international law. 

She added, “The global economy, our food, our goods depends on the safety of commercial shipping. That’s why we have international laws that protect the freedom of navigation.”

The Iranian embassy took a jab at the British diplomat using its own words. “Good points,” the embassy said on Twitter. 

It added, “Food, goods and commercial shipping of Iran is also being jeopardized for years either by unlawful sanctions or attacks on its vessels. But no reaction. International law shall apply on all and work for all.”

The embassy also called on the UK to present evidence to support its “grave” allegations. “Grave allegations need hard evidence,” it said.

Woodward reiterated the Group of Seven foreign ministers' claim on Friday that Tehran was involved in the attack on the Israeli-managed oil tanker, which resulted in the death of two civilians, a British and a Romanian citizen. 

The Iran on Saturday roundly dismissed the G7 accusations, calling them “groundless” and “anti-Iran.”

“We categorically condemn the unfounded statement by G7 foreign ministers and the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy in which baseless accusations have been leveled against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

“It is noteworthy that the scenario of this incident played out only a few days before the swearing-in ceremony of Iran’s new president, which is a manifestation of the democratic transition of power in Iran,” he explained.

“Such baseless scenarios, which are usually developed by the Israeli regime, are aimed at stirring up tension, and are unfortunately believed by those who are ready to draw unreal and unwise conclusions,” said Khatibzadeh.

“In fact, those who are familiar with the history of this region are no strangers to such conspiracies by the Israeli regime at different points in time,” he noted.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has been fully committed to ensuring the security of the strategic Persian Gulf waterway and the Strait of Hormuz, and regards it as part of its own security and remains ready to work with the regional countries to establish and ensure a lasting collective security system in the region,” he noted.

Meanwhile, he added, Iran will not hesitate one iota to defend its sovereign rights in that domain.

Mercer Street was attacked off the coast of Oman on July 29 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.”

Iran has said it was not behind the attack on the Israeli ship. Khatibzadeh has responded to allegations by U.S. and UK top diplomats against Iran about the suspicious attack on the Israeli oil tanker.

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.

In a following tweet, Khatibzadeh 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.”

In the midst of the kerfuffle over Mercer Street, several Western media outlets alleged that a number of commercial ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were harassed by allegedly Iranian forces. Iran strongly denied any involvement and even said there were no incidents taking place in the Gulf of Oman, where the alleged harassment reported happened.

Allegations propagated by Western media were dismissed by Iranian officials as a prelude to new adventurism by the West against Iran. The senior spokesman for the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, denounced the Western press reports about the alleged incidents in the Gulf of Oman as “psych ops” and an effort to pave the way for new adventurism against Iran.

“Conflicting reports by Western, Zionist, and Saudi media about any maritime insecurity and hijacking of vessels in the region’s waters are sort of psych ops and a prelude to new adventurism,” the Iranian general said. “The armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, while supporting passage of commercial ships, are well-prepared and have full intelligence surveillance over any suspicious moves.”

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