(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. told the United Nations Security Council that Iran was probably behind the deadly drone attack on an Israel-managed tanker off the coast of Oman last week that led to the death of a Romanian and a Briton, a first step in bringing the issue before the world body.
“Initial assessments by the U.K. and international partners, shared by Romania, concluded that it is highly likely that” the merchant vessel Mercer Street was attacked by “Iran off the coast of Oman using one or more Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” missions from the U.K., Romania and Liberia wrote in a letter to the council seen by Bloomberg News.
It’s unlikely, though, that the U.K. and allies including the U.S. can win support for a statement blaming Iran in the 15-member Security Council, where nations including Russia and China have veto power.
Tensions have escalated in the narrow shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf since Thursday’s attack on the tanker. The U.S. has vowed an “appropriate response” along with its allies after the two crew members were killed. Tehran has denied involvement.
A fresh incident described as a “potential hijack” was reported in waters roughly halfway between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. Navy’s regional monitoring service said on Tuesday. The event happened approximately 60 nautical miles east of the UAE port of Fujairah, and investigations are ongoing, the UKMTO said.
A spokesperson for the U.K.’s foreign office said “we are urgently investigating an incident on a vessel off the UAE coast.”
Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, denied reports that Iran’s forces boarded moving ships in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman and warned against “rumors and the fake news of Western and Zionist media,” according to the semi-official Tasnim news.
Earlier he called the incident “utterly suspicious” and said Iran was prepared to provide assistance to any ships in distress in the area and help with efforts to investigate the event.
Israel said earlier it had given allies “hard evidence” that Iran was behind last week’s deadly attack.
“No one has any doubt who is behind the incident, but we supplied hard evidence for good measure,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Israel is seeking international support for a concerted response to the attack, but it “also knows how to act on its own,” he added.
In its own letter to the Security Council, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said the latest attack is “yet another instance of maritime terrorism undertaken by Iran on the high seas, similar to other recent attacks that I have already brought to the attention of the Security Council, asking that concrete action be taken.”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.