The UK said it was “very likely” that Iran carried out an “unlawful and ruthless attack” on a ship in the Middle East, which left a Briton dead.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said the government believed the drone attack on the oil tanker off the coast of Oman was “deliberate, targeted and a flagrant violation of international law by Iran.”
The strike against the Mercer Street tanker on Thursday night was the first known deadly attack after years of attacks on commercial shipping in the region linked to tensions with Iran over its tattered nuclear deal.
British maritime security company Ambrey said the attack killed one of its employees on board the ship. A Romanian crew member was also killed.
Iran has denied any responsibility after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett directly blamed him for the attack, but Raab said the British government supported Bennett’s claim.
“The UK condemns the unlawful and cruel attack on a merchant ship off the coast of Oman which killed a British and Romanian national,” said the Foreign Minister.
“Our hearts go out to the friends and family of those killed in the incident.
“We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted and a flagrant violation of international law by Iran.
“British assessments have concluded that it is very likely that Iran attacked MV Mercer Street in international waters off Oman on July 29 using one or more unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Iran must end such attacks and ships must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law. The UK is working with our international partners on a concerted response to this unacceptable attack. “
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy urged the Prime Minister to “make Iran understand” that the murder of a British national aboard the Mercer Street ship “will come at a cost.”
“This irresponsible Iranian attack on a merchant ship in international waters is a flagrant violation of international law,” she said.
“It is tragic that this resulted in the deaths of two sailors, including a Briton. We send our deepest condolences to their families.
“The prime minister must make it clear to the new Iranian president that anarchic actions will entail costs. This is the time when Britain must show that we are determined to end this pattern of behavior.
“The failure of a clear strategy for dealing with Iran has not served the UK or our allies well in recent years. The Minister of Foreign Affairs must now make it a priority to continue coordinated international efforts to combat these actions by the Iranian government. “