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Instead, the Iranians put the drone on display and later claimed to have reverse-engineered it to produce their own.
Occasionally, those tensions have escalated into violence.
The recent American assertion that Iran poses an immediate threat has raised fears that the two nations have pushed closer to the brink.
It is the conduit for about 40 percent of the world’s oil tanker traffic, and has been the recurrent backdrop of military bluster.
Iran warned it could close the strait during its war with Iraq, which lasted from 1980 to 1988, and has periodically threatened to mine the waterway since.
The Iranians took pictures of the sailors kneeling in surrender, in a move clearly meant to humiliate the United States.
The sailors were released after 24 hours, and a Defense Department inquiry concluded that Navy blundering was to blame.
The Americans said the crew mistook the plane for a fighter jet.
Other confrontations were not lethal but were seen as embarrassing.
In December 2011, Iranian forces claimed to have downed a sophisticated American surveillance drone that had gone missing.
The United States said the drone had crashed and demanded Iran return it.