Tensions flare in Persian Gulf after drone shot down and tanker seized


Tensions have been on the rise between Washington and Tehran after U.S. President Donald Trump previous year withdrew from a landmark global deal under which Iran scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Shortly after, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters he had no information about the incident so far.

Earlier, Tehran said it had seized a "foreign tanker" and its 12 crew on Sunday for smuggling fuel in the Gulf.

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The confrontation comes as tensions between Washington and Tehran remain high over a spate of attacks on cargo ships, the downing of an American drone and the British seizure of a tanker carrying Iranian oil.

It's part of the Trump administration's response to growing tensions with Iran.

Trump said at the time the United States had come close to launching a military strike on Iran in retaliation for the downing of the USA drone.

The announcement came just days after an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates disappeared off trackers in Iranian territorial waters.

The vessel had reportedly issued a distress call on Sunday before Iran seized the tanker.

US Central Command chief, General Kenneth McKenzie, said the US was talking to several countries about ensuring freedom of navigation in the Gulf.

Tehran says it will continue to reduce compliance with the accord until it is allowed to resume normal oil sales, and has demanded European parties to the deal rein in the United States. "The United States has pushed itself and the rest of the world into probably the brink of an abyss", he told reporters at the United Nations in NY.

Keane said Iran's continuous actions have shown "just how desperate" the country is because of "crippling" sanctions imposed against the nation, and added that most of their actions have "backfired". Yet both sides kept open the possibility of talks.

"This seems to be an attempt to boost the price of oil after the recent news (which Iran denied) that US was in talks with Iran". Trump appeared to be receptive as well to negotiations. "Iran must cease this illicit activity and release the reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately".

"Once they get here, they loiter forever, but they sort of stay at the same altitude and we can sort of keep track. They're pulling back because they don't have money", Trump said. We can do something quickly or we can take our time.