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November 16, 2022 3:45 pm
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White House ‘Confident’ Iran Responsible for Attack on Tanker Operated by Israeli-Owned Company

avatar by Andrew Bernard

Mercer Street, an Israeli-managed oil tanker that was attacked is seen off Fujairah Port in United Arab Emirates, August 3, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Rula Rouhana/File Photo

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Wednesday said that the US is “confident” that Iran was responsible for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attack on an oil tanker in international waters off the coast of Oman that occurred on Tuesday.

“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran likely conducted this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing directly and via its proxies throughout the Middle East and proliferating to Russia for use in Ukraine,” Sullivan said. “There is no justification for this attack, which is the latest in a pattern of such actions and broader destabilizing activities.”

The ship that was attacked, MV Pacific Zircon, is a Liberian-flagged oil tanker operated by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which is owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer.

Eastern Pacific in a statement on Tuesday said that the Pacific Zircon was hit by a “projectile” on Tuesday afternoon while the ship was 150 miles off the coast of Oman. The projectile caused minor damage to the ship’s hull, but did not cause it to spill any oil or take on water. The crew was unharmed.

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The incident is not the first time that Iran has attacked oil tankers connected to Israel. In 2021, US Central Command concluded that Iran was responsible for a kamikaze drone attack on MV Mercer Street, an oil tanker operated by a company owned by Eyal Ofer, Idan’s brother, also an Israeli national.

Iran has also attacked or seized a slew of other vessels in international waters, including two Greek-owned oil tankers in May after Iran had warned it would take “punitive action” against Athens over the confiscation of Iranian oil by the United States from an Iranian tanker held off the Greek coast. 

On Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that it was releasing those vessels after concluding an agreement with Greece in Tehran in which Greece agreed to release the Iranian-flagged tanker.

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