Iran: Expert discusses UK’s ‘blunt’ response to drone ‘attack’
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Tehran has denied any involvement in the attack on Thursday in which two crew members – the Briton plus a Romanian – were killed. The United States and Britain said on Sunday they would work with their allies to respond to the attack on Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.
Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said: “Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today described the incident as “clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping”.
He told reporters today: “Iran should face up to the consequences of what they’ve done.
“This was clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping, a UK national died.
Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s President (Image: GETTY)
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: GETTY)
“It is absolutely vital that Iran and every other country respects the freedoms of navigation around the world, and the UK will continue to insist on that.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said today: “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.
“Minister Cleverly 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.”
Benny Gantz said Israel would “settle the score” (Image: PA)
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has promised to work with allies on a “concerted response” to Iran following the attack, which also killed a Romanian.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he is confident that Iran carried out the attack using explosive drones – “a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region”.
Later, Iran summoned the British Charge d’ Affaires and Romania’s top envoy in Tehran over their countries’ “accusations against the Islamic Republic”, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.
The US Navy, which was escorting the tanker with the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, said on Saturday early indications “clearly pointed” to a drone attack.
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Dominic Raab’s tweet (Image: Twitter)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Image: GETTY)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had accused Tehran of “trying to shirk responsibility” for the attack, and called its denial “cowardly”.
Israel’s foreign minister said on Sunday the incident deserved a harsh response.
Israel Defence Minister Benny Gantz said the attack was an intensification of what he called Iran’s escalation and accused Tehran of intending to hurt and kill civilians.
He told the Israeli parliament: “Israel has a variety of tools and options to defend its citizens, and we will settle the score with anyone who tries to harm us at the time and place and in the way that suits us and our security.”
Iran vs Israel in terms of their military power (Image: Express)
Tehran has denied responsibility, accusing Israel of making baseless accusations against Iran.
Meanwhile, chairman of Parliament’s Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood MP warned the incident had the potential to derail crunch talks aimed at keeping afloat the JPOCA deal aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
He told Express.co.uk: “We must robustly respond and we must be careful of how we respond, because Israel, no doubt will retaliate but with scant regard to keeping the nuclear deal as an option.
“They’ll quite happily see this event, escalate higher, which could easily see the Vienna talks suddenly break down and we don’t want that.
“So absolutely we need to proportionately respond.
Tobias Ellwood wants to see the evidence before the UK launches any kind of “kinetic response” (Image: GETTY)
“But as we are in recess now, I would like to see the evidence before we do any kinetic response.
“No country in the world can just ask for people to say, ‘believe us when another country has provoked an attack’.
“I am calling for senior parliamentarians such as myself and Tom Tugendhat to see the evidence before any counter-strike is made.”