The U.S. cited evidence for the first time Friday to back up its assertion that Iran was behind the deadly drone attack on an Israeli-managed tanker last week.
Multiple parts of the unmanned aerial vehicle that killed two crew members were recovered and “were nearly identical to previously collected examples from Iranian one-way attack UAVs,” Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement. “U.S. experts concluded based on the evidence that this UAV was produced in Iran.”
Two other drones targeting the ship were unsuccessful, he said.
U.K. and Israeli explosive experts were given access to the evidence and concur with the U.S. findings, Urban said. Iran has denied it was behind the July 29 attack on the Mercer Street tanker off the coast of Oman.
The U.S. statement came as the United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors on Friday to discuss the attack.
“We know that Iran was responsible for this attack,” U.K. Ambassador Barbara Woodward told reporters at the UN in New York after the council meeting. “There is no justification for what happened: a state-sanctioned attack on a civilian vessel passing peacefully through international waters.”
But Iran’s deputy envoy to the UN, Zahra Ershadi, said her country “categorically” rejects the accusation, warning Israel against any military action that might lead to an escalation in the region.
“Iran warns against such adventurism and miscalculations,” she said. “Iran will not hesitate to defend itself and secure its national interests.”
Also Friday, the G7 foreign ministers issued a statement concurring that “all available evidence clearly points to Iran.” The representatives from the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan and the European Union’s High Representative said “there is no justification for this attack” and “we will continue to do our utmost to protect all shipping, upon which the global economy depends.”
Tensions have escalated in and around the waterways of the Persian Gulf -- vital for the world’s oil markets -- in the past week. The U.S. vowed a “collective response” with its allies but hasn’t suggested what form that response will take.
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said this week that Israel is prepared to attack Iran if need be, as his country lobbied for a response to the drone attack.
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