Israel | Israeli oil tanker Pacific Zircon attacked by kamikaze drone
Defence Redefined
Published on 17/11/2022 at 17:35

An oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire was hit by a loitering munition (also known as suicide or kamikaze drones) off the coast of Oman amid rising tensions with Iran, officials said on Wednesday. 

The attack on the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Pacific Zircon took place on Tuesday night, the Associated Press reports. Pacific Zircon operates under Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which is ultimately owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer.

In a statement, Eastern Pacific Shipping said the Pacific Zircon, which was carrying gas oil, was hit by a projectile about 240 km off the coast of Oman.

So far there are no reports of injuries or pollution. All crew is safe, while there is some damage to the vessel’s hull, but no cargo spillage or water ingress.

An Israeli official said it appears Iran carried out the attack with a Shahed-136 loitering munition, stressing that there is consensus on this in the Israeli intelligence and defence community. However, Iran’s government did not acknowledge the attack on the said ship, while Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The strike came hours after the US Navy said it had found 70 tonnes of missile fuel ingredient hidden among bags of fertilizer on a ship bound for Yemen from Iran, a major seizure that could disrupt the Iran-backed Houthi ballistic missile program.

In 2021, a similar suspected attack hit the Israeli oil tanker Mercer Street off Oman, killing two people on board.

Torbjorn Soltvedt, an analyst at the risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, said the attack was not a surprise as the risk of attacks against shipping and energy infrastructure in the wider region has been increasing mainly due to the lack of progress in US-Iran nuclear diplomacy and Washington’s decision to put further pressure through sanctions on Iran.

After the collapse of the Iran nuclear deal, non-proliferation experts warn that the Islamic Republic now has sufficient enriched uranium to build at least one nuclear weapon if it chooses so, although Tehran insists its program is peaceful.

Also read: Iran | Greek sailors held hostages to be repatriated after three months




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