Israel on Wednesday accused Iran of launching a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, an official describing it as “an Iranian provocation in the Gulf” related to the World Cup in Qatar.
A self-destructing drone attacked the Pacific Zircon, an Israel-affiliated, Liberian-flagged oil tanker carrying diesel, around 10 p.m. 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-destructing drone, the same ones used in Ukraine.” Iran has sent its self-destructing drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, underscoring the extent to which Iran has developed its attack drone technology.
“We see this as an Iranian provocation in the Gulf, it is not an attack against Israel, it is the same thing they usually do in the Gulf, trying to disrupt stability and mainly influence World Cup events,” the Israeli official said. , who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.
US Central Command later said in a statement that “exploitation of the debris that struck the vessel reveals that it was a Shahed series one-way attack drone.”
“This unmanned aerial vehicle attack on a civilian vessel in this narrow maritime strait demonstrates, once again, the destabilizing nature of Iranian malign activity in the region,” said General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of Central Command. of the US, in a statement.
The incident caused no injuries, according to Eastern Pacific Shipping, the ship’s operating company.
“We are in communication with the boat and there are no reports of injuries or contamination. The entire crew is safe and accounted for,” he said Wednesday. “There is some minor damage to the hull of the ship, but there is no cargo spillage or water ingress.”
Marine Traffic showed the last known position of the tanker off the coast of Oman near Liwa on Monday.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Iran was likely behind a drone attack, saying in a statement that while there was “no justification for this attack,” it is “the latest in a pattern of such actions and broader destabilizing activities.”
“After reviewing the available information, we are confident that Iran likely carried out this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability that it is increasingly employing directly and through its proxies throughout the Middle East and proliferating in Russia for use in Ukraine.” Sullivan said.
It warned that the action threatens international shipping, trade and the “freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway.”
CNN has reached out to the Iranian government for comment.
The weapon and target fit the pattern of attacks linked to Iran in the past. On July 30, 2021, an armed drone attacked a cargo ship named Mercer Street off the coast of Oman, killing two. That ship was associated with an Israeli billionaire.
Soccer teams and supporters from 32 countries, including Iran, gather in Qatar ahead of the World Cup, which begins on Sunday.