JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel’s defense minister on Wednesday accused Iran of launching a deadly drone attack on an oil tanker from its territory last month, reiterating that Israel would act alone if necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Benny Gantz spoke when Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited Washington to speak with representatives of the Biden government about Iran on his first state visit to Washington.
Mercer Street, an oil tanker sailing in the Arabian Sea off Oman, was hit by a drone aircraft on July 29. Two people were killed in the attack, a British citizen and a Romanian. The tanker is managed by a company owned by an Israeli billionaire.
The United States, Britain and Israel have all blamed Iran for the drone strike on Mercer Street, but no country has yet produced evidence or information to support their claims. Iran has denied any wrongdoing.
“Our assessment is that the UAV used in the attack on Mercer Street was launched from Iranian territory and approved by the Iranian leadership,” Gantz told foreign diplomats in a briefing. His remarks were made public by his office.
Gantz, a former Israeli army chief, previously warned that Israel was ready to take military action against Iran and called for international action to stop Iranian aggression.
The two countries have been in a shadow war for years, which has grown in importance in recent months after a long line of attacks on merchant ships.
The attacks began after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers in 2018, which led Iran to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. President Joe Biden said he was ready to re-join the deal, but talks about rescuing the deal have stalled in Vienna.
Israel claims its regional arch-rival Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
Gantz doubled those threats on Wednesday, saying that Israel “has the means to act and will not hesitate to do so – I do not rule out that Israel may have to take action in the future to prevent a nuclear Iran”. . “
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