President Trump on Monday again denied in a tweet that Iran captured CIA agents by saying, “The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth.”

The president also criticized the Tehran regime, “a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”

This follows an incident where Iran announced on Monday, July 22 that it had arrested 17 Iranians for helping the CIA, some of them “were sentenced to death and some to long-term imprisonment.”

The president denied it, saying “That’s totally a false story. That’s another lie.”

According to AP, President Trump also said Iran has “disrespected” the United States, adding: “If they want to make a deal, frankly it’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran because they’ve behaved very badly. They’re saying bad things.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former CIA director, declined to address specifics of the arrests but said, “The Iranian regime has a long history of lying.”

“I think everyone should take with a grain of salt everything that the Islamic Republic of Iran asserts today,” he said.

Critics said Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, as well as his doubling down on economic sanctions, have set the stage for Iran to lash out at the West and make threats short of triggering a war, according to AP.

Tensions escalated on Friday when Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. On Monday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Iran of “an act of state piracy” that he said must be met with a coordinated international reaction.

Last week, Iran also denied that the U.S. Navy shot down its drones. President Trump said, “There’s a lot of proof” for that. 

“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a very, very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew.”

“The drone was immediately destroyed,” President Trump said.

Includes reporting from The Associate Press. 

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