US CENTCOM Investigation Blames Iran for ‘Kamikaze’ Drone Attack on Tanker
The US Central Command revealed on Friday findings of an investigation that blamed Iran for a July 30 suicide drone attack that killed two crew members.
The attack on the Mercer Street vessel — a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by an Israeli company — left a Briton and Romanian dead, drawing international condemnation.
In a statement Friday, US CENTCOM said that an expert explosive investigative team from the USS Ronald Reagan had examined evidence from the ship and interviewed survivors.
The team found that the Mercer Street had been targeted by “two unsuccessful explosive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) attacks” on July 29, the night before the successful strike, with remnants of at least one of the drones from those attempts having been retrieved on board.
The July 30 strike was found to have done extensive damage to the vessel, photographs of which CENTCOM also published.
It said that the UAV was “loaded with a military-grade explosive,” and that its impact “created an approximately 6-foot diameter hole in the topside of the pilot house and badly damaged the interior.”
“Explosive chemical tests were indicative of a Nitrate-based explosive and identified as RDX, indicating the UAV had been rigged to cause injury and destruction,” CENTCOM said.
The team also was able to recover several pieces of the UAV, including a part of the wing and internal components that were “nearly identical” to other examples of Iranian one-way attack drones previously documented at Iranian airshows and used in conflicts in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
“US Experts concluded, based on the vertical fin being identical to those identified on one of the Iranian designed and produced one-way attack ‘kamikaze’ UAV family, that Iran was actively involved in this attack,” said CENTCOM spokesman US Navy Capt. Bill Urban.
UK and Israeli explosive experts also had access to the materials reviewed by the US military investigators, and concurred with their findings.
Earlier Friday, foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations said that all available evidence pointed to Iranian responsibility for the attack.
“All available evidence clearly points to Iran. There is no justification for this attack,” said the statement, issued by current G7 chair, Britain. “Iran’s behavior, alongside its support to proxy forces and non-state armed actors, threatens international peace and security.”
“We call on Iran to stop all activities inconsistent with relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and call on all parties to play a constructive role in fostering regional stability and peace,” the G7 said.