Trump says attacks on oil tankers 'very minor'

This file picture obtained by AFP from Iranian news agency Tasnim on June 13, 2019 reportedly shows an Iranian navy boat trying to control fire from Norwegian owned Front Altair tanker after it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman (AFP Photo/-)

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump downplayed recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that Washington blames on Iran and noted that the United States is less dependent on energy supplies from the region.

"So far, it’s been very minor," Trump told Time magazine in an interview released Monday.

However, Trump said he accepts the US intelligence assessment that Iran is behind the explosions that damaged the hulls of Norwegian and Japanese tankers.

"I don’t think too many people don’t believe it," he said.

Iran denies responsibility for the incidents, which come as tensions spiral between Washington and Tehran over what the United States says is Iran's secret push to develop nuclear weapons technology. Iran also denies having such a policy.

Trump told Time he would order a US military response if Iran had to be stopped getting nuclear arms, but he was not eager for war otherwise.

"I would certainly go over nuclear weapons," he said, "and I would keep the other a question mark."

"Other places get such vast amounts of oil there," Trump said. "We get very little. We have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half years in energy. And when the pipelines get built, we’re now an exporter of energy. So we’re not in the position that we used to be in in the Middle East."