The incident marks the latest heating up of tensions in recent months between Washington and Tehran. (AP: Dan Rosenbaum/British Royal Navy, file photo)
An explosion has damaged an Iranian oil tanker travelling through the Red Sea near Saudi Arabia, according to local media sources.
There has been no immediate word from Saudi Arabia on the reported blast.
State television said the explosion damaged two storerooms aboard the unnamed oil tanker and caused an oil leak into the Red Sea, without elaborating further.
The reported explosion comes after the US recently alleged that Iran attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf — accusations Tehran has denied.
The latest explosion could further escalate tensions between Iran and the US, more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy.
The mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran shooting down a US military surveillance drone and other incidents across the wider Middle East followed Mr Trump’s decision.
The latest assault saw Saudi Arabia’s vital oil industry come under a drone-and-cruise-missile attack, halving the kingdom’s output.
The US has blamed Iran for the attack as Tehran maintained that it had no involvement.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, with whom Saudi Arabia has long been at war, claimed credit for that assault, though analysts say the missiles used in the attack would not have the range to reach the sites from Yemen.
The state-run IRNA news agency and others relied on an online news report for their stories, while the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted an anonymous source with direct knowledge of the incident.
All reports said the reported explosion happened off the coast of Jeddah on the Red Sea.
The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which oversees the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.