Israel on Wednesday accused Iran of launching a drone strike on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, with one official describing it as “an Iranian provocation in the Gulf” related to the World Cup in Qatar.
A self-destructing drone attacked the Pacific Zircon, a Liberian-flagged Israel-affiliated tanker carrying gas oil around 10 p.m. Monday, but caused no major damage, a US military official told CNN. The drone did not disable the ship or interrupt its voyage, the US official said.
An Israeli official said the weapon was an Iranian “HESA Shahed 136 self-destructing drone also used in Ukraine.” Iran has 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 Gulf – it’s not an attack on Israel – it’s the same thing they usually do in the Gulf, trying to disrupt stability and mainly influencing World Cup events,” the Israeli said Official who did not ask to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.
The US Central Command later said in a statement that “exploitation of the debris that hit the ship shows it was a Shahed series disposable attack drone.”
“This attack by an unmanned aerial vehicle on a civilian ship in this critical strait demonstrates once again the destabilizing nature of Iranian malign activities in the region,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of the US Central Command, in a statement.
According to Eastern Pacific Shipping, the ship’s operating company, the incident caused no injuries.
“We are in contact with the ship and there are no reports of injuries or contamination. All crew members are safe and responsible,” it said on Wednesday. “There is some minor hull damage, but no cargo was spilled or water got in.”
Marine Traffic showed the tanker’s last known position off the coast of Oman near Liwa on Monday.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Iran was likely behind a drone strike, saying in a statement that while there was “no justification for this attack,” it was “the latest in a pattern of such actions and broader destabilizing activity.” ” be.
“After reviewing the available information, we are confident that Iran likely carried out this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability it is increasingly using directly and through its proxies throughout the Middle East and spreading to Russia for use in Ukraine,” said Sullivan.
He warned that the action threatened international shipping, trade and “freedom of navigation on this crucial 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 cargo ship named Mercer Street off the coast of Oman, killing two. This ship was linked to an Israeli billionaire.
Soccer teams and fans from 32 nations, including Iran, gather in Qatar ahead of the World Cup, which begins on Sunday.