US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz pledged on Friday, August 6, to cooperate closely on regional security after they blamed Iran for the recent attack on an oil tanker.
Austin and Gantz referred to the July 29 attack on the Mercer Street oil tanker, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, and “expressed concern about the spread and use of unidirectional attack drones by Iran throughout the Persian Gulf region.”
In this way, the defense ministers pledged to continue to cooperate closely on regional security, according to the Pentagon.
See also: Iran denies responsibility for an attack on an Israeli oil tanker off the coast of Oman
“They agreed to work with allies and partners to condemn Iranian aggression that undermines freedom of navigation, and exchanged views on next steps,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
The Group of Seven, the world’s most powerful and wealthiest country, issued a statement on Friday formally blaming Iran for the ship attack that killed two sailors.
Similarly, US Central Command (CENTCOM), the Pentagon’s command in the Middle East, confirmed that the ship had been attacked by drones twice before the third fatal attack occurred.
Explosives experts were able to recover parts of the third drone, including the vertical stabilizer and internal components that the US military said were “virtually identical to those previously collected from an Iranian unidirectional attack drone.”
The US Central Command said: “The distance from the Iranian coast to the attack sites was within range of the Iranian unidirectional attack drones.”
He added that, “After conducting an on-site analysis, some of the materials were transferred to the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet in Manama, Bahrain, and then to a US national laboratory for further testing and verification.”
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Iran denied the allegations and said it would respond “quickly and forcefully” if Israel took military action.
Iranian ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this week that “Iran does not hesitate to protect its security and national interests and will respond quickly and firmly to any possible adventure.”
Khatibzadeh described the accusations made by the United States against Iran as “contradictory, false and provocative,” describing them as “extremely unfortunate.”
In addition, he said that Iran had been “a defender of safe navigation in the Persian Gulf and international waters” and that it was “always ready to cooperate to provide maritime security to the countries of the region.”
* Juan Felipe Vélez contributed to this note.
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