US President Trump says he avoided a retaliatiory strike on Iran

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Tensions between Iran and the United States almost escalated into a unsafe direct confrontation on Thursday as President Donald Trump approved airstrikes against Tehran following the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' downing of a USA spy drone, but abruptly backtracked on his decision.

"I thought about it for a second and I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with a 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world", he wrote in a tweet, but added that the US was "cocked & loaded to retaliate". "I hope that happens", he added.

Tensions are high between the USA and Iran once again following Trump's move more than one year ago to leave a multinational accord curbing Iran's nuclear ambition.

"Everyone was saying I'm a war-monger, and now they say I'm a dove", Trump said Saturday as he was peppered with questions about the Iran drama. "But I'm not looking to do that", Mr Trump told NBC News in an interview a day after he aborted a planned air strike against Iranian targets in retaliation for Tehran shooting down a United States drone.

Tehran shot down a United States military "spy" drone earlier this week, which Iran claims had invaded Iran airspace, to send a "clear message" to Washington that the country is capable of defending its borders.

In return, relevant sanctions were lifted, allowing Iran to resume oil exports - the government's main source of revenue.

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"I never called the strike against Iran "BACK", as people are incorrectly reporting, I just stopped it from going forward at this time!"

Last year, Trump withdrew the United States from the deal created to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief, and reinstated measures created to choke off Iranian oil sales and cripple its economy.

However, the United States Central Command insisted the drone was flying over global waters.

According to Trump's own account, he called off the bombing of Iranian missile and radar installations only 10 minutes before US Tomahawk cruise missiles were set to fly. Iran has denied involvement.

The National Security Agency would not discuss Iranian cyber actions specifically, but said in a statement to the AP on Friday that "there have been serious issues with malicious Iranian cyber actions in the past".

Citing US officials, the newspaper reported that the attack crippled Iranian computers used to control rocket and missile launches.

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"These changes will cause delays on some departures from Abu Dhabi, due to increased congestion in available airspace, and will increase journey times on some routes", a spokesperson said. "Sanctions are biting & more added last night".

"It's always on the table until we get this solved", the president said in response.

The sanctions bar U.S. companies from trading with Iran, but also with foreign firms or countries that are dealing with Iran.

Former intelligence officials said that Iran's interest in collecting this type of location data on where ships are within the Straight of Hormuz for potential attack purposes.

Yahoo News first reported the cyber attack.

Iran's main regional rival, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. have blamed Iran for attacks on two tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman, and on four more off the United Arab Emirates on 12 May, both near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a major conduit for global oil supplies.

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The visit comes amid continuing tension between London and Tehran over the treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen who has been detained in Iran since April 2016 accused of spreading propaganda against Iran.

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