Donald Trump has confirmed the assessment of senior advisers and publicly accused Iran of being behind recent attacks on oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
The US president said Iran was “a nation of terror” whose culpability had been”exposed” by the US.
Calling into Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends show, he said of the Thursday attacks: “Iran did do it.”
While Tehran has denied being involved in the attacks, US Central Command released footage it said shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous.
Mr Trump did not mention any potential US response to the attack, saying Washington has been “very tough on sanctions”.
He added: “They’ve been told in very strong terms we want to get them back to the table.”
The tanker attacks coincided with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Iran.
Mr Abe, a Trump ally, had taken a similar message encouraging a return to negotiations on his visit to Tehran.
US officials said on Thursday that the Trump administration was considering a return to providing naval escorts to vessels travelling through the maritime choke point.
He warned Iran not to close off the Strait of Hormuz, saying if it is closed it will not be closed for long.