Israel blames Iran for drone attack on oil tanker in Gulf of Oman


On Wednesday, Israel blamed Iran for a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, which one official described as an “Iranian provocation in the Persian Gulf” linked to the World Cup in Qatar.

A self-destructing drone attacked the Pacific Zircon, a Liberian-flagged and Israel-linked oil tanker, around 10:00 p.m. Monday but did not cause major damage, a US military official told CNN. The drone did not disable the ship or interrupt its journey, the US official said.

“We are in contact with the vessel and there are no reports of injuries or contamination. All crew are safe and insured,” the vessel’s operating company, Eastern Pacific Shipping, said on Wednesday. “There is minor damage to the ship’s hull, but no cargo spillage or water ingress.”

Marine Traffic showed the tanker’s last known position off the coast of Oman near Liwa on Monday.

The Israeli official said the weapon was an Iranian “HESA Shahed 136 self-destruct drone, the same ones used in Ukraine.” Iran sent its self-destructing drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, underscoring the extent to which Iran has developed its attack drone technology.

“We see this as an Iranian provocation in the Persian Gulf – this is not an attack on Israel – this is the same thing they usually do in the Persian Gulf, trying to destabilize and mainly influence the events of the World Cup,” said the Israeli official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Iran was likely behind the drone attack, saying in a statement that while there was “no justification for this attack”, it was “the latest in a pattern of similar actions and wider destabilizing activities “.

“After reviewing the available information, we are confident that Iran likely carried out this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability that it is increasingly using directly and through its proxies in the Middle East and is distributing to Russia for use in Ukraine,” said Sullivan.

He warned that the action threatened international shipping, trade and “freedom of navigation in this important waterway”.

CNN has reached out to the Iranian government for comment.

The weapon and target fit the pattern of attacks linked to Iran in the past. On July 30, 2021, an armed drone attacked a freighter named Mercer Street off the coast of Oman, killing two. This ship was linked to an Israeli billionaire.

Soccer teams and supporters from 32 nations, including Iran, are gathering in Qatar ahead of the World Cup, which starts on Sunday.

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