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    Mercer Street attack prompts UK to summon Iranian envoy


Iran denied responsibility for an attack on an oil products tanker that left two people dead.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Mercer Street attack prompts UK to summon Iranian envoy

The UK government on August 2 summoned the Iranian envoy in response to a deadly attack on an Israeli-operated oil products tanker.

Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer owns London-based Zodiac Maritime, the operator of the Liberian-flagged Mercer Street. That vessel was the target of an attack that left a Romanian and a UK national dead.

A spokesperson for the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said that Mohsen Baharvand, the Iranian envoy to the UK, was summoned in response to the July 29 incident.

James Cleverly, the UK minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa, “reiterated that Iran must immediately cease actions that risk international peace and security, and reinforced that vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law,” the spokesperson said.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, said that Iran reserves the right to defend its maritime interests, but described the allegations as baseless. If countries have documented proof that Iran carried out the attack, then they need to come forward and present it, he was quoted in the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying August 2.

On August 1, US secretary of state Anthony Blinken said there was no justification for an attack on a commercial vessel that he said was operating in international waters.

“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.

Zodiac Maritime in a July 30 statement described the attack as a “suspected piracy incident” that occurred in the northern Indian Ocean. There was no cargo onboard at the time.

Mercer Street (IMO: 9539585) was headed to Fujairah from Dar es Salaam as the time of the incident. Zodiac Maritime said the vessel was sailing under its own power with a US naval escort to a "safe location."