Iran denies role in tanker attack, says seeks Gulf security

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

August 7, 2021

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran on Saturday rejected as psychological warfare accusations that it was behind a deadly attack on a tanker off Oman’s coast, and said Tehran sought to enhance the security of the strategic Gulf waterway.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven wealthy economies said on Friday Iran was threatening international peace and security and that all available evidence showed it was behind the attack on the Mercer Street tanker last week.

“If we were to confront enemies… we would declare it openly, so the recent storytelling by the enemies is a psychological operation,” state media quoted Abolfazl Shekarchi, Iran’s senior armed forces spokesman, as saying.

The vessel was a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.

Tehran has denied any involvement in the suspected drone attack in which two crew members – a Briton and a Romanian – were killed near the mouth of the Gulf, a key oil shipping route.

“Contrary to the strategy of the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime (Israel), which aim to create insecurity …and Iranophobia, Iran’s strategy is to strengthen security in the Persian Gulf,” Shekarchi said.

The U.S. military said explosives experts from the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier – which deployed to assist the Mercer Street – concluded the drone was produced in Iran.

But Shekarchi said: “The Americans say they recovered parts of Iranian drones from the water….but in which laboratory was this evidence identified as belonging to Iran?,” the Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

“Preparing forged evidence is not a difficult task as the Zionists excel at preparing forged documents,” Shekarchi said, suggesting Israel may have been behind the attack.

Despite Iran’s denials, Britain, the United States and others have criticised Tehran for the attack. Britain raised the issue at a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

Iran’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Zahra Ershadi rejected the accusations that Tehran was behind the attack and warned against any retaliation: “Iran will not hesitate to defend itself and secure its national interests.”

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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