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Iran Threatens 'Prompt, Strong' Response To Threats As U.K. Chides Tehran Over Deadly Tanker Attack


Two people died in the reported drone attack on the Mercer Street tanker on July 29. (file photo)

Tehran warned on August 2 that it would respond swiftly to any threat to its security, as the United Kingdom summoned the Iranian ambassador over what London and allies say was a deadly attack on a commercial ship off the coast of Oman ordered by Tehran.

Britain, the United States, and Israel have accused Iran of being behind what they say was a deadly bombing last week by an unmanned drone on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.

All three have said they will work with allies to respond to the July 29 incident, which killed a Briton and a Romanian aboard the ship.

"Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure," Iranian state TV quoted an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Said Khatibzadeh, as saying.

The same day, Britain summoned the Iranian ambassador in London in connection with the attack.

"Iran must immediately cease actions that risk international peace and security," a British government statement announcing the summons said, adding that "vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law."

The Mercer Street attack marks what is thought to be the first fatal attack on commercial shipping since antagonism and tensions were ratcheted up amid naval confrontations in the vital shipping routes through the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

Those incidents have piled up since the United States withdrew in 2018 from a 3-year-old nuclear agreement between world powers and Tehran trading sanctions relief for checks on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on August 1 that "We believe this attack was a deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran."

The U.S. Navy escorted the damaged vessel to a safe port and said evidence "clearly pointed" to a drone attack.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was “no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused Tehran of a "cowardly" denial of responsibility, while his foreign minister suggested the attack merited a harsh response.

Iranian television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Khatibzadeh as saying he "strongly regretted the baseless accusations made by the British foreign secretary against Iran, which were repeated by the U.S. secretary of state in the same context and contained contradictory, false, and provocative accusations."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
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