The pressure on Iran increases. After the deadly attack on a tanker manned by an Israeli billionaire in the Arabian Sea, the United States promised a “collective response” despite refusals from Tehran. “There will be a collective response,” declared on Monday the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, who had already accused Iran the day before of carrying out this attack. Iran continues to act in a terribly irresponsible manner (…) Iranian acts are a direct threat to the freedom of navigation. “
On Sunday, Iranian authorities denied any link to the Thursday attack on the “Mercer Street” oil tanker, run by the company of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer and a target according to Washington for “explosive drones.” Unclaimed, this attack left two dead: a Briton employed by the Ambrey security company and a Romanian crew member, according to the shipowner Zodiac Maritime. Britain, Romania and Israel are among the allies Washington coordinated with on Monday, Antony Blinken said.
Meanwhile, Iran warned on Monday that it would retaliate against any “adventurism” after threats from Israel and the United States. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not hesitate to protect its security and national interests,” Iranian Foreign Affairs spokesman Said Khatibzadeh warned in a statement. She “will respond immediately and decisively to any adventurism,” he said.
These new and strong tensions arise on the eve of the inauguration of the new president in Iran, the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raïssi, who succeeds the moderate Hassan Rohani. Iran is a sworn enemy of the United States and Israel. He has not maintained relations with the first since 1980 and does not recognize the existence of the second. In the wake of the attack, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accused Iran of being “an exporter of terrorism, destruction and instability that hurts everyone.” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Monday in front of the Knesset. “That is precisely why we must act now against Iran (…) It is not a future threat, but a concrete and immediate danger,” he judged.
“The Zionist regime (Israel) must stop (launch) such baseless accusations, ”Saïd Khatibzadeh replied. But Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett insisted on Iranian responsibility, saying his country had “proof.” Likewise, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the United States was “sure that Iran had carried out the attack.”
Together with Washington and Israel, the United Kingdom called on Iran to “immediately cease its actions that endanger regional and international peace and security.” On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that Iran should “face the consequences of what it has done”, citing “an unacceptable and scandalous attack on a commercial ship”, in which “a British citizen was killed.”
“It is absolutely essential that Iran, like any other country, respect the freedoms of navigation around the world, and Britain will continue to insist on this. London, but also Bucharest, summoned their respective Iranian ambassadors. Iran, which also summoned the British Charge d’Affaires to Tehran, according to the official Irna news agency, estimated that “the origin of insecurity in the Persian Gulf is not Iran, but the presence of ships and military forces from countries outside the region ”.
For years, Israel and Iran have directly or indirectly clashed in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the Palestinian Gaza Strip. But in recent months, this rivalry has spread to the sea with the emergence of a mysterious series of sabotage and attacks. “If they have evidence to back up their baseless claims, they should provide it,” Said Khatibzadeh said on Monday, criticizing London and Washington for remaining “silent” on “terror attacks” targeting Iranian “trading ships.”
Iran is a “bad protagonist on the international scene (…) but we continue to think that seeking a diplomatic channel (…) is in our national interest,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, renewing the desire of the Biden administration to save the Iranian international nuclear deal. Returning to this agreement would put the United States “in a better position to respond to these other problems,” he said at a news conference on Monday.