Omani officials have revealed that an oil tanker associated with an Israeli billionaire was struck by a bomb-carrying drone off the country’s coast. Independent verification from British military organisation the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations has identified the shape as Liberian-flagged Pacific Zircon. The attack was reported on Tuesday evening and comes amid heightened tensions with Iran.
Ship tracking site MarineTraffic last recorded the ship’s position as it travelled off the coast of Liwa, Oman on Monday, November 14.
Pacific Zircon departed the area as it set a course for Buenos Aires that afternoon.
UK officials said they were investigating the attack on the ship, which is operated by Eastern Pacific Shipping, a Singaporean-based firm owned by Israeli Idan Ofer.
They told the AP: “We are aware of an incident and it’s being investigated at this time.”
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Iran is well-known for its drone production, having favoured the remote-controlled devices for payload delivery in recent years.
Most recently, western powers have accused the country of supplying Russia and allowing their use in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Before the attack on November 15, the US Treasury Department accused two individuals – Abbas Djuma and Tigran Khristoforovich Srabionov – of helping Russia’s Wagner Group acquire Iranian drones.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said: “As we have demonstrated repeatedly, the United States is determined to sanction people and companies, no matter where they are located, that support Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine.”
“Today’s action exposes and holds accountable companies and individuals that have enabled Russia’s use of Iranian-built UAVs to brutalize Ukrainian civilians.
“This is part of our larger effort to disrupt Russia’s war effort and deny the equipment it needs through sanctions and export controls.”
Iran has admitted to supplying Russia with drones, but denied it is providing the country with missiles.
Speaking to reporters from Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said: “Some western countries have accused Iran of helping the war in Ukraine by providing drones and missiles to Russia. The part regarding missiles is completely wrong.
“The part about drones is correct, we did provide a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of the war in Ukraine.”