US govt tells Israel is free to make decisions on Iran

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Blinken says that Iran’s steps posed a challenge and a threat in light of an unrestricted nuclear program, reports Asian Lite News

Israel was “free to make the decisions it deemed appropriate” on Iran after an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman last week which has been blamed on Tehran, the White House has said.

The US, Britain and Israel have blamed Iran for the fatal attack on the Israeli-linked oil tanker. Iran denies involvement.

The White House added that Iran’s steps posed a challenge and a threat in light of an unrestricted nuclear program.

In Washington on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was “confident that Iran carried out this attack.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s defense minister also said Monday that Iran’s alleged attack on the ship was “a stepping-up of the escalation” of hostilities by Iran, and called for international action.

Benny Gantz addressed Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, and said the drone strike on the Mercer Street that left two crew members dead — one from the UK and one from Romania — was “in violation of international law and human morality.” He charged that Iran was behind at least five attacks on international shipping in the last year.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran and its militia allies have used so-called “suicide” drones in attacks previously. The region has seen a rise in attacks on commercial vessels in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

“This is exactly the reason why we must act now against Iran, which is not only striving toward nuclear arms, but is also bringing about a dangerous arms race and intends to destabilize the Middle East with terrorist militias who are armed with hundreds of drones in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and other countries in the region,” Gantz said.

He added that any future agreement between world powers and Iran to rein in its nuclear program must also address Iranian’s “aggression in the region and harming both innocent people and to the global economy.”

He also said that it was not a future threat, rather a “tangible and immediate danger.”

Blinken said the US was in close contact with the Israelis, the UK and Romania and “there will be a collective response.” He did not elaborate on what that response might be.

“It follows a pattern of similar attacks by Iran, including past incidents with explosive drones,” he told reporters at the State Department. “There is no justification for this attack on a peaceful vessel on a commercial mission, international waters rise action is a direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce, took the lives of innocent sailors.”

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As well as his comments on Israel, also reported by Al Arabiya, Blinken said the US was in close contact with the Israelis, the UK and Romania and “there will be a collective response.” He did not elaborate on what that response might be.

“It follows a pattern of similar attacks by Iran, including past incidents with explosive drones,” he told reporters at the State Department. “There is no justification for this attack on a peaceful vessel on a commercial mission, international waters rise action is a direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce, took the lives of innocent sailors.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.(pic credit: twitter.com/naftalibennett)

UK, Iran summon envoys

On Monday, Britain summoned Iran’s ambassador to London in response to what it called “the unlawful attack” on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman last week, a government statement read.

“Iran must immediately cease actions that risk international peace and security,” it added, saying that “vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law.”

Iran’s foreign ministry also summoned the British charge d’affaires to “protest remarks” made by the UK’s foreign secretary, state news agency IRNA reported.

He was told that “these hasty, contradictory, and baseless remarks are rejected and strongly condemned,” the agency said.

Earlier, Iran said it will respond promptly to any threat against its security, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, as the United States, Israel and Britain blamed Tehran for an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure,” state television quoted Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying.

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