London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that Iran must face up to the consequences of its "outrageous" attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman.
"Iran should face up to the consequences of what they've done," Johnson told reporters. "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."
Ealier, Britain summoned Iran’s ambassador after London and the United States both blamed an attack on the tanker. “Minister (James) 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,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday Iran will respond promptly to any threat against its security.
Tehran has denied any involvement in the attack on Thursday in which two crew members — a Briton and a Romanian — were killed.
The United States and Britain said on Sunday they would work with their partners to respond to the attack on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.
“Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure,” Iranian state television quoted Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying.
Khatibzadeh “strongly regretted the baseless accusations made by the British foreign secretary against Iran, which were repeated by the US secretary of state in the same context and contained contradictory, false and provocative accusations”, state TV reported.
The US and Israel vowed to respond to a deadly drone attack on the tanker.
Middle East foes Iran and Israel have traded multiple accusations of shipping attacks in recent months. But Thursday’s strike off the coast of Oman, which Tehran denied carrying out, was the first to kill crew members — a Romanian and a Briton.
The two fatalities have raised tensions in the Gulf at a critical juncture with Iran preparing to inaugurate a new president, and talks with world powers over its 2015 nuclear deal stalled.
“I promise you that Israel will not sit silently by after a strike against ships or citizens and will respond once it finds the where, the when and the how,” Ram Ben Barak, the head of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, told Army Radio on Monday.
Romania said it had summoned the Iranian ambassador, while Britain is sending a team to investigate the attack on the Mercer Street oil-products tanker, now moored off the United Arab Emirates, its deputy envoy to Israel told Israeli broadcaster Kan.
“There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Sunday. “We are working with our partners to consider our next steps and consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response, which will be forthcoming.”
He gave no further details of what the response might entail. A spokesperson for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is based in the region, declined to comment. The US and its allies created a maritime force in 2019 in response to similar attacks to protect sea lanes in the Middle East.
Blinken said he was “confident” Iran used “one-way explosive” drones in Thursday’s attack. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “one or more” of the unmanned drones may have been involved in the hit.
Romania “retains its right to act accordingly, together with its international partners, in order to have an adequate response,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said in e-mailed response to Bloomberg questions, saying it had summoned the Iranian envoy.