Israel Challenges Security Council

Following the attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street last week, which killed two members of the crew, tensions between the international community and Iran have soared.

The tanker Mercer StreetThe tanker Mercer Street (screenshot from Jerusalem Post video)

Whilst Iran have strenuously denied responsibility for the attack, Israel, the UK, and the US are convinced the Iranians are responsible.

On Wednesday 4th August, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, and Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, presented evidence to members of the UN Security Council that Saeed Ara Jani, the head of Iran`s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps UAV Command, was behind the attack.

Lapid noted that Iran’s latest attacks affect international trade routes and hence represent attacks on all countries’ freedom of movement. He asked:

“What is the international community going to do about it?
Does international law still exist?
Does the world have the ability and the will to enforce it?”

He went on to argue that if the world doesn’t respond to these attacks, there is no international community as such, and it will be “every man for himself.”

One of the two crew members killed on the Mercer Street was a British national. Consequently, the UK Government has written to the head of the UN Security Council, along with Romania and Liberia, insisting that action is taken against Iran over the attack.

UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab tweeted:

Tweet by Dominic Raab

The situation became even more serious on Tuesday 3rd August when the bitumen tanker Asphalt Princess was seized while sailing towards the Strait of Hormuz. Details of the event are still unclear, but a UK maritime security agency reported late on Tuesday that:

‘Boarders have left the vessel. Vessel is safe. Incident complete.’

A BBC News report said that while it is not clear who seized the ship, analysts suspect Iranian forces. Those who boarded the ship were reported to be armed and ordered it to sail to Iran.

In addition, what makes Tuesday’s events even more significant is that the Asphalt Princess was not the only ship involved – six oil tankers in the area all reported that they were ‘not under command’ – suggesting problems with their propulsion and / or steering. There are many details about these events still to emerge into the public domain.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called for the UN Security Council to “condemn and sanction” Iran over Thursday’s attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street, also highlighting two other attacks by Iran on the Helios Ray and the Hyperion Ray earlier this year.