Blinken vows ‘collective response’ to Iran on tanker

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the announcement of former ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley as the first chief diversity officer in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, U.S. April 12, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday renewed his vow of a “collective response” to Iran, which had warned adversaries against reprisals after Tehran was blamed for an attack on an Israeli-linked tanker.

“We are in very close contact, in coordination, with the United Kingdom, Israel, Romania and other countries. And there will be a collective response,” Blinken told reporters, according to AFP.

The MT Mercer Street, managed by prominent Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, was struck Thursday off the coast of Oman, in an incident Israel has blamed on Iran.

A British security guard and a Romanian crew member were killed in what the United States, Britain and the vessel’s operator Zodiac Maritime said appeared to be a drone strike.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Sunday that Israel “must stop such baseless accusations”.

The U.S. and Britain on Sunday also then blamed Iran for the attack.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the attack as “deliberate, targeted and unlawful”.

Iran “will not hesitate to protect its security and national interests, and will immediately and decisively respond to any possible adventurism,” ministry spokesman Khatibzadeh said in a statement.

He dismissed U.S. and Britain’s statements as “contradictory”, and said “if they have any evidence to support their baseless claims they should provide them”.

Khatibzadeh also accused them of effectively supporting “terrorist attacks against and sabotage of Iran’s commercial ships” through their “silence”.

In recent months, there have been several reported attacks on Iran’s shipping fleet, that Tehran has linked to Israel.

In March, Iran’s foreign ministry said it was “considering all options” in response to an attack on a cargo ship in the Mediterranean it blamed on Israel.

And in April, Tehran said its freighter Saviz was hit by an “explosion” in the Red Sea, after media reports said Israel had struck the ship.

The New York Times reported at the time that the Saviz had been targeted in an Israeli “retaliatory” attack after “Iran’s earlier strikes on Israeli ships”.

It came at a time of heightened tensions between the foes, with reports of a series of tit-for-tat attacks on shipping since early March.

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