President Donald Trump said on Thursday that a US Navy ship had "destroyed" an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the aircraft threatened the ship, in the latest incident in the Gulf.
Trump told an event in the White House that the drone had flown to within 1,000 yards (metres) of the USS Boxer.
"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters. The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests," Trump said.
“The drone was immediately destroyed,” Trump said. He gave no more details.
The Pentagon said in a statement that the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, had taken "defensive action" against a drone, but did not mention if the aircraft was Iranian.
The incident came weeks after Iran shot down a US drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the aircraft, according to Tehran, entered its territorial airspace. The US maintained the drone was in international airspace.
Tensions have been mounting in the Gulf region since Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and brought back sweeping sanctions against Iran. The latest series of incidents in one of the world’s most volatile shipping chokeholds has raised fears that the US and Iran could stumble into war.
Iran seizes vessel ‘smuggling fuel’
Meanwhile Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, during a visit to the UN headquarters in New York, told reporters that Tehran was only “a few minutes away from war” after Iran shot down the US spy drone last month.
When asked about the US downing an Iranian drone, Zarif said he had “no information” about the incident.
Zarif also said that Iran could reverse recent moves to surpass uranium enrichment limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. "We are moving forward but that could be reversed as soon as the other side is prepared to implement its commitment," he said, referring to US sanctions imposed on Iran.
But reporting from Washington for FRANCE 24, Philip Crowther noted that the possibility of the US and Iran opening up talks looked “a bit further off now because of the oil tanker seized by the Iranian Guards Forces”.
The US has demanded that Iran immediately release the vessel and said it would work "aggressively" to ensure free passage of vessels through the vital waterway.
Iran has however played down the seizure of the ship, which it said was a small vessel that was smuggling oil.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)