the Pentagon has announced that a drone launched from Iran struck a chemical tanker off the coast of India on Saturday, December 23, 2023. The attack, which targeted the Japanese-owned and Dutch-operated MV Chem Pluto, marks a significant escalation of tensions in the region and raises concerns about the safety of maritime shipping.
The attack occurred near the coast of India, where the tanker was en route to the United Arab Emirates. No casualties or injuries were reported, but the vessel sustained minor damage.
The Pentagon said it was monitoring the situation and condemned Iran’s “reckless and escalatory actions” in the region. The attack comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear program and its support for proxy groups in the Middle East.
Key Details of the Attack:
- The drone struck the MV Chem Pluto approximately 200 nautical miles off the coast of India in the Arabian Sea.
- The attack caused a fire on board the tanker, but fortunately, there were no casualties reported.
- The Pentagon, while refraining from providing specific evidence, confidently attributed the attack to Iran.
- This incident represents the seventh Iranian attack on commercial shipping since 2021.
Iran has not claimed responsibility for the attack, but has previously used drones and missiles to target oil facilities and ships in the Persian Gulf. In July, Iran was blamed for a drone strike that killed two crew members on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman. Iran denied any involvement and warned of a “strong response” to any retaliation.
The latest attack raises concerns about the security of maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean, where many oil tankers pass through. It also complicates the efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which has been stalled since former US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.