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Iran denies Israeli charge it was behind tanker attack off Oman

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Iran denies Israeli charge it was behind tanker attack off Oman
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File image of oil tanker Mercer Street

Tehran: The Iranian government has rejected claims by Israel against the former being behind an attack on an oil tanker off Oman coast earlier this week. The same charge was made by the US and UK about the incident which killed two crew members, reported Al Jazeera.

On Sunday, Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett had said during a weekly cabinet meeting "I declare unequivocally: Iran carried out the attack against the ship", as posted in the Israeli PM's Twitter account.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during a virtual news conference on Sunday dismissed the charge as yet another allegation by Israel about such incidents.

"Wherever this regime has gone, it has brought with itself insecurity, terror and violence. Those responsible [for this attack] are the ones that allowed the Israeli regime to set foot in this region," he said.

"Whoever sows wind will reap a storm," Khatibzadeh said, adding that Iran will defend its national security wherever necessary.

The oil tanker Mercer Street had a Liberrian flag and was operated by a company belonging to Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. An apparent drone attack hit the tanker late on Thursday northeast of the Omani island of Masirah. A Romanian and a UK national were killed in the attack.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, have alleged Iran was behind the hit but have yet to provide evidence. He said that Iran is trying to shirt responsibility fo the event in a cowardly manner.

"The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake. In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way."

US State Secretary Anthony Blinken said on Sunday he was "confident" Iran conducted the attack using armed drones.

"There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behaviour," he said in a statement, adding that the US is consulting with governments in and beyond the region on an "appropriate response".

The UK's response was conveyed through a statement published on Sunday wherein Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was "highly likely" Iran attacked the tanker in international waters with one or more drones.

"We believe this attack was deliberate, targeted and a clear violation of international law by Iran," he said. "Iran must stop such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law."

After the attack, US Navy vessels escorted the Mercer Street as it headed to a safe port.

The incident happened days before Iran's new president-elect Ebrahim Raisi is slated to take charge on Thursday. The hardlithe judge has promised to work to restore the nuclear deal, signed by Iran in 2015, but unilaterally abandoned by the US in 2018, but the fate of the deal is still unclear as several key issues remain unsolved.

A seventh and potentially final round of talks in Austria's capital, Vienna, is expected to commence soon after Raisi assumes office.

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TAGS:Israel blames Iran oil tanker attack off Oman vessel Mercer STreet US too accuses Iran 
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