Israel on Wednesday accused Iran of launching a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, in what an official described as “Iranian provocation in the Gulf” linked to the World Cup in Qatar.
A self-destruct drone attacked the Pacific Zircon, a Liberian-flagged, Israeli-built tanker carrying gas oil, at 10pm on Monday but did not cause major damage, a US military official told CNN. The drone did not disable the ship or disrupt its voyage, the US official said.
An Israeli official said the weapon was an Iranian “HESA Shahed 136 self-destruct drone, the same one being used in Ukraine”. Iran has sent its self-destruct drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, underscoring how much Iran has developed its attack drone technology.
“We see this as an Iranian provocation in the Gulf – it’s not an attack against Israel – it’s the same thing they usually do in the Gulf, trying to disrupt stability and mainly influence World Cup matches,” the Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. to name due to the sensitivity of the situation.
US Central Command later said in a statement that “the mishandling of debris that hit the ship indicated that it was a Shahed-series one-way attack drone.”
“This unmanned aerial vehicle attack against a civilian vessel in this critical maritime strait demonstrates, once again, the destabilizing nature of Iranian malign activity in the region,” U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Michael “Eric” Kurilla said in a statement.
The vessel’s operating company, Eastern Pacific Shipping, said the incident did not result in any injuries.
“We are in communication with the vessel and there are no reports of injuries or pollution. All crew are safe and accounted for,” it said on Wednesday. “There is some damage to the vessel’s hull but no leakage of cargo or water inlets.”
Ocean traffic showed the tanker’s last known position off the coast of Oman near Liwa on Monday.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement that it was possible Iran was behind the drone attack, adding that there was “no justification for this attack” but that it was “the latest in a pattern of similar actions and broader destabilizing activities”.
“After reviewing the available information, we are confident that Iran may have carried out this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability that it is increasingly employing both directly and through its proxies throughout the Middle East and is spreading to Russia for use in Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
He warned that the move would threaten international shipping, commerce and “freedom of navigation through this critical waterway”.
CNN has reached out to the Iranian government for comment.
The weapon and target fit a pattern of attacks previously associated with Iran. On July 30, 2021, an armed drone attacked the cargo ship Mercer Street off the coast of Oman, killing two people. The ship was linked to an Israeli billionaire.
Soccer teams and supporters from 32 nations, including Iran, are gathering in Qatar ahead of the World Cup, which starts on Sunday.