Tensions with Iran Soar

An attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street in international waters off the coast of Oman on Thursday 29th July has caused tensions with Iran to soar even when they were already high. It resulted in the death of two personnel on board the tanker, a Romanian said to be the captain and a British security guard.

The Israelis were quick to identify the Iranians as responsible for the attack, saying:

“Iran is sowing violence and destruction in every corner of the region.
They were so eager to attack an Israeli target that they’ve embroiled themselves
and incriminated themselves in the killing of foreign citizens.”

It is the killing of two foreign citizens, not linked to Israel, that has sparked the condemnation after a series of tit-for-tat attacks between Iran and Israel.

On Friday, state-owned Iranian news network Al-Alam quoted ‘well-informed sources’ as saying the attack was a response to an Israeli airstrike that killed two senior military personnel engaged in moving weapons into Syria.

But any link of the tanker to Israel is tenuous. It is Japanese-owned and is registered in Liberia, only being managed by a company owned by an Israeli.

The UK and the US were slower than Israel to declare Iran responsible but did so on Sunday through formal statements by Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

The British statement read:

‘The UK condemns the unlawful and callous attack committed on a merchant vessel
off the coast of Oman, which killed a British and a Romanian national.
Our thoughts are with the friends and family of those killed in the incident.

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).

Iran must end such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely
in accordance with international law.

The UK is working with our international partners on a concerted response
to this unacceptable attack.’

That statement was reinforced on Monday by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who said:

“Iran should face up to the consequences of what they’ve done.”

Boris Johnson statement - screen shotScreen shot from BBC tweet of Boris Johnson statement


The international community is clearly most concerned about this attack. The world now waits to see what action will be taken against Iran in response.