UK dispatches team to Gulf as it plans response to Iran drone attack

·2-min read
File image of the attacked vessel, the Mercer Street - Johan Victor /Johan Victor
File image of the attacked vessel, the Mercer Street - Johan Victor /Johan Victor

Britain is sending a team of investigators to the Gulf as it draws up a "concerted" response to an Iranian drone attack on an Israeli-linked vessel last week that killed a British citizen.

Mark Power, the UK deputy ambassador to Israel, told Israeli broadcaster Kan that the team was being sent after London received "clear proof" that Iran carried out the attack.  

Kan reported that the team will arrive in a few days at the Emirati port of Fujairah, where the damaged vessel - Mercer Street - is docked.

It was reported on Sunday night that the Government held a Cobra meeting over the weekend to discuss appropriate reactions to the incident.

The Iranians - who for years have been engaged in a tit-for-tat maritime conflict with the Israelis - deny being behind the incident, which was the first fatal assault in the conflict so far.

A British security guard and a Romanian citizen, the ship's captain according to some reports, were killed when the drone crashed into the living quarters.

Watch: UK and US blame Iran for 'targeted' drone attack on oil tanker MV Mercer Street off coast of Oman

The Mercer Street is a Japanese-owned vessel but is operated by a UK-based company which belongs to the Israel billionaire and shipping magnate Eyal Ofer.  

Romania on Monday joined the UK and the US in blaming Iran on the attack, summoning their ambassador to the foreign ministry.

“Based on the available information, Romania strongly condemns the Iranian drone attack against “Mercer Street”, during which a Romanian citizen was killed. There is no justification whatsoever for deliberately attacking civilians. We continue to coordinate with our partners for an appropriate response,” Bogdan Aurescu, the Romanian Foreign Minister tweeted.

US secretary of state Anthony Blinken on Sunday also released a statement saying that he was “confident” it was an Iranian assault.

“The question for the Iranians who deny - if you did not do it, then who did it and who has the motivation to attack the ship," Deputy Ambassador Mark Power asked on Kan News.

The diplomat added that the attack was “a clear violation” and the British response will “ensure safe sailing for ships sailing in the area and around the world”.

Israel has signalled that it is planning its own unilateral response to the drone attack and has welcomed the strong diplomatic response from London and Washington.

"The threat posed by the terrorist regime in Iran will only increase as the ‘Hangman of Tehran’ [Ebrahim] Raisi becomes president," said Israel's foreign minister Yair Lapid.

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