USA: New Iranian “kamikaze” drone killed two in attack on merchant ships; Britain and the US condemn Tehran for attack

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Photo of the US Central Command

A one-way drone made in Iran and loaded with explosives attacked an Israeli-operated commercial tanker off the coast of Oman last week, the US Central Command said on Friday.

The Delta Wing drone, similar in design to the unidentified, unmanned long range “kamikaze” drones developed for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, flew into the wheelhouse of the merchant tanker Mercerstrasse on July 30, killed two crew members, according to a report from CENTCOM.

“This [unmanned aerial vehicle] was loaded with a military explosive and caused the death of two crew members; the captain of the ship, a Romanian national and a British national who was part of the security department, ”read a summary of the report.

“The explosive detonation after the UAV impact created a hole about 6 feet in diameter in the top of the pilot house and severely damaged the interior. Explosive chemical tests indicated a nitrate-based explosive and were identified as RDX, suggesting that the UAV had been tampered with to cause injury and destruction. “

The tanker was attacked in the Indian Ocean about 152 nautical miles northeast of Duqm, Oman, and about 21 nautical miles off the coast of Oman. according to UK Maritime Trade Operations.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21037783-mercer-street-attack-as-of-06aug21-final1?responsive=1&title=1

A Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team on the move Mercerstrasse from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) after the fatal attack recovered parts of a drone from two previous failed attempts to attack the commercial tanker. They agreed with a drone that the IRGC had publicly unveiled earlier this year as part of its Great Prophet series of exercises, which was believed to have been used in attacks on the Saudi Arabian Aramco oil fields on September 14, 2019. Houthi rebels based in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais. However, US and Saudi intelligence officials believed the attacks came from Iran. The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Explosives experts were able to recover several pieces [a] third UAV, including a vertical stabilizer (part of the wing) and internal components that were almost identical to previously collected examples of Iranian one-way attack UAVs, ”the statement from CENTCOM said.

“The distance from the Iranian coast to the locations of the attacks was within the range of the documented Iranian one-way attack UAVs. After an on-site analysis, some of the material was transferred to the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet in Manama, Bahrain, and then to a national US laboratory for further testing and verification. “

The US shared the results with Israeli and British explosives experts, who agreed with the American assessment.

The Iranian delegation to the United Nations denied any responsibility for the attacks and blamed Isreal for “adventure and destabilizing activities”.

The assessment of the explosives experts led to a conviction by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, the USA and the EU in a statement published on Friday by the British Foreign Office.

“We condemn the unlawful attack on a merchant ship off the coast of Oman… in which a British and a Romanian national were killed. This was a deliberate and targeted attack and a clear violation of international law. All the evidence available clearly points to Iran. There is no justification for this attack “, reads the statement.

“Iran’s conduct, along with its support for proxy forces and armed non-state actors, threatens international peace and security. We call on Iran to cease all activities that conflict with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and call on all parties to play a constructive role in promoting regional stability and peace. “

Image of the US Central Command

The attack on the Israel-operated ship is widely viewed as a continuation of the conflict between Israel and Iran over oil supplies to Syria.

On July 3, a merchant ship recently owned by Zodiac was attacked by an Iranian drone en route from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. reported The New York Times.

The technical sophistication of Iranian drones is changing the dynamics of their proxy conflicts, Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert with the Defense of Democracies Foundation, told USNI News on Friday.

“Iran’s drones have gone through a revolution in the past decade, with more models being produced and distributed than ever before, and lethality increasing,” he said.
“Iran’s willingness to climb the escalation ladder against Israeli and US assets in the region means it has greater confidence in both the capabilities of its military systems, such as drones, and its ability to withstand pressure or even a kinetic response Has.”


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