- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2019

Iran’s claim it captured 17 spies working for the CIA is a lie, President Trump insisted Monday, as tensions in the Persian Gulf showed no signs of cooling.

State television reports in Iran said operatives were arrested over the calendar year ending in March, and that some were sentenced to death.

“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

The president said it is “just more lies and propaganda” released by a “Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do.”

Mr. Trump compared it to Iran’s rejection of reports that the U.S. Navy shot down a drone last week.

Tehran said all of its aircraft were accounted for, even as the White House described in detail how the drone was brought down by American sailors in the strait.

SEE ALSO: Iran says it arrested 17 CIA spies, some sentenced to death

Global tensions over Iran are centered in the busy Strait of Hormuz, which carries 20 percent of the world’s oil shipments.

Iran captured a British tanker on Friday, in apparent retaliation for the seizure of an Iranian ship near Gibraltar suspected of violating sanctions.

Mr. Trump is warning Iran to be careful amid the tensions. He is applying “maximum pressure” on the regime as he pushes to negotiate over the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions.

The president reapplied sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from nuclear pact that President Obama inked with international partners. He says it was a horrible deal.

Mr. Trump says his strategy will work, as Iran squirms under economic pressure.

“Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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