Israel on Wednesday accused Iran of launching a drone attack on an oil tanker off Oman, with an official describing it as “an Iranian provocation in the Gulf” linked to the World Cup in Qatar.
A self-destructing drone attacked the Pacific Zircon, a Liberian-flagged, Israel-affiliated oil tanker, around 10 p.m. Monday, but it did not cause major damage, a US military official told CNN. The drone did not disable the ship or interrupt its journey, the US official said.
An Israeli official said the weapon was an Iranian “HESA Shahed 136 self-destructing drone, the same ones used in Ukraine”. Iran has sent its self-destructing drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, highlighting how well 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 influence the events of the World Cup,” said the Israeli official, who asked no. be appointed due to the sensitivity of the situation.
U.S. Central Command later said in a statement that “mining of the debris that struck the ship reveals it was a Shahed-series one-way attack drone.”
“This unmanned aerial vehicle attack on a civilian vessel in this critical sea strait demonstrates, once again, the destabilizing nature of Iranian malign activity in the region,” said General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of the US Central Command, in a statement.
There were no injuries in the incident, according to Eastern Pacific Shipping, the ship’s operating company.
“We are in communication with the vessel and there are no reports of injuries or pollution. All crew members are safe and sound,” he said Wednesday. “There is some minor damage to the vessel’s hull but no cargo spillage or water ingress.”
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 attack, saying in a statement that while there is “no justification for this attack” , it is “the latest in a series of such actions and broader destabilizing activities”.
“After reviewing 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 proliferating in Russia for use in Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
He warned the action threatened international shipping, trade and the “freedom of navigation on this crucial waterway”.
CNN has contacted the Iranian government for comment.
The weapon and target match the pattern of Iran-related attacks in the past. On July 30, 2021, an armed drone attacked a freighter named Mercer Street off the coast of Oman, killing two people. This ship was associated with an Israeli billionaire.
Football teams and fans from 32 countries, including Iran, gather in Qatar ahead of the World Cup, which kicks off on Sunday.