U.S. Says Iran Responsible for Deadly Oil Tanker Attack in Arabian Sea

The U.S. and the Group of Seven (G-7), the inter-governmental group including America, said Iran was responsible for last week's deadly oil tanker attack in the Arabian Sea by using a drone strike and killing two people.

Off Oman's coast, the HV Mercer Street was attacked in international waters on July 29 with an Iranian drone and its military-grade explosive, U.S. Central Command said based on evidence gathered. A Briton and a Romanian onboard the tanker died as a result.

After an analysis, Central Command said thepurpose of the drone's weaponwas to "to cause injury and destruction." G-7 foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. said the attack was "deliberate" and "targeted," clearly violating international law.

"All available evidence clearly points to Iran. There is no justification for this attack," a joint statement from the foreign ministers said.

"Iran's behavior, alongside its support to proxy forces and non-state armed actors, threatens international peace and security," the statement added. "We call on Iran to stop all activities inconsistent with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, and call on all parties to play a constructive role in fostering regional stability and peace."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi
The U.S. said Iran is responsible for a deadly oil tanker attack in the Arabian Sea last week that killed two people. In this photo, Iran's newest president, Ebrahim Raisi, is seen holding a press conference as president-elect at Shahid Beheshti conference hall on June 21, 2021 in Tehran, Iran. Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

"U.S. experts concluded based on the evidence that this UAV was produced in Iran," Central Command said, using the military term for an "unmanned aerial vehicle."

Iran has denied being involved.

Central Command said the ship had been targeted by three drones but that the first two were unsuccessful. "The investigative team determined that the extensive damage to the Mercer Street ... was the result of a third UAV attack."

It said the drone attack had caused an approximately 6-foot-diameter hole in the pilot house of the vessel and had badly damaged the interior.

Left unsaid in the Central Command report was that the triangle-shaped Delta wing drones used in the Mercer Street attack were also used in 2019 strikes on the heart of the Saudi oil industry, which temporarily halved the kingdom's production and sent markets spiking.

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed those attacks, but the distance from their territory to the two sites hit likely was too great for them to have launched the attacks, analysts said. In January, Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard appeared to use the same kind of Delta drones in a drill aired on state television.

Friday's military analysis was released concurrently with a statement from the G-7 foreign ministers condemning the attack that killed a Briton and a Romanian.

"We condemn the unlawful attack committed on a merchant vessel," the foreign ministers said in their joint statement.

The ship is managed by a firm owned by an Israeli billionaire, and Israel — along with the U.S. and Britain — had previously pointed the finger at Tehran.

The ministers called for vessels in the region to be able to "navigate freely in accordance with international law."

"We will continue to do our utmost to protect all shipping, upon which the global economy depends, so that it is able to operate freely and without being threatened by irresponsible and violent acts," they added.