UK summons Iran ambassador over tanker attack that 'risks international peace'

Britain tells Tehran to stop unlawful attacks and comply with international law

The Iranian ambassador in London has been summoned for an official rebuke at the British Foreign Office after the deadly attack on a ship in the Arabian Sea.

Mohsen Baharvand was given the demarche by James Cleverly, Minister for the Middle East, who condemned Iran’s unlawful attack in which a drone detonated on a civilian cargo vessel killing a British Army veteran and a Romanian sailor.

The attack is at least the fourth conducted by Iran since February and the deadliest, giving rise to a potential crisis in the region and scuppering talks on a nuclear deal.

Britain and America roundly condemned the Tehran regime and are considering a response.

The reprimand came after UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday condemned Iran for the “unlawful and callous” drone attack, calling it a “clear violation” of international law.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that Hassan Rouhani’s government should accept responsibility for the attack.

“I think that Iran should face up to the consequences of what they have done, accept the attribution that the Foreign Secretary has made,” Mr Johnson said.

“This was clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping, a UK national died.

“It is absolutely vital that Iran and every other country respects the freedoms of navigation around the world, and the UK will continue to insist on that.”

A formal announcement issued by the Foreign Office said Mr Baharvand, a qualified lawyer who arrived in Britain only last month, was summoned by Mr Cleverly “in response to the unlawful attack” committed against the MV Mercer Street last Thursday.

“Minister Cleverly reiterated that Iran must immediately cease actions that risk international peace and security, and reinforced that vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law,” it said.

The suicide drone detonated on the bridge of the Israeli-owned MV Mercer Street off the coast of Oman.

“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” Mr Raab said. “UK assessments have concluded that it is highly likely that Iran attacked the MV Mercer Street in international waters off Oman on July 29 using one or more unmanned aerial vehicles.

He said Britain would work with international partners for a “concerted response to this unacceptable attack”.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the British charge d’affaires in Tehran to protest Raab’s comments. Iran rejected and strongly condemned these “hasty, contradictory and unsubstantiated statements,” the ministry said.

Iran will defend itself with a timely, appropriate and decisive response to any “adventurous action,” the ministry said.

The US on Sunday singled out Iran as responsible for the deadly attack on an Israeli operated oil tanker off the coast of Oman and vowed a “forthcoming” response, illustrating Washington’s rapidly dwindling patience with Tehran over several recent provocations and the lack of progress in negotiations to restore the nuclear deal.

“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way [unmanned aerial vehicles], a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement regarding the attack on the Mercer Street.

“There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behaviour. These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this critical waterway, international shipping and commerce and the lives of those on the vessels involved.”

Updated: August 2nd 2021, 7:15 PM