DUBAI (Reuters/AFP) - Iran has obtained data from a US intelligence drone that shows it was spying on the country’s military sites and oil terminals, Iranian media reported its armed forces as saying on Wednesday.

Iran announced on Tuesday that it had captured a ScanEagle drone belonging to the United States, but Washington said there was no evidence to support the assertion.

The incident has underscored tensions in the Gulf as Iran and the United States draw attention to their military capabilities in the vital oil exporting region in a standoff over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

“We have fully extracted the drone’s information,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said in a statement on Wednesday, according to Iran’s English-language Press TV.

The drone was gathering military information and spying on the transfer of oil from Iran’s petroleum terminals, the IRGC statement said, according to Press TV. Iran’s main export terminal is at Kharg Island.

The US government has focused on blocking Iran’s oil exports through sanctions to persuade Iran to give up its disputed nuclear program, which the US and its allies believe is aimed at developing a bomb, something Iran denies.

Israeli officials have threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear sites if sanctions and diplomacy fail to stop its program.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz - through which about 40 percent of the world’s seaborne crude oil is shipped - if it comes under attack. US commanders have said they will not let that happen.

The compact ScanEagle drone had been flying over the Gulf in the last few days and was captured when it strayed into Iranian airspace, the IRGC said in a statement on Tuesday.

The US military has been using Boeing Co ScanEagle spy planes since 2004 and they have become a relatively inexpensive way for the United States and others to conduct surveillance.

In November, the United States said Iranian warplanes shot at a US surveillance drone flying in international airspace.

Iran said the aircraft had entered its airspace to spy on Iranian oil platforms and said it would respond “decisively” to any incursions.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are telling the United States to “recount” the drones in its fleet as they insist that - despite US denials - they captured a small US unmanned spy plane over Gulf waters, Iranian media said Wednesday. “Its capture is not an issue the Americans can easily refute,” Guards spokesman Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif was quoted as saying.

“I advise the American commanders to recount their drones accurately,” he said.

They said the craft was seized in Iranian airspace but gave no details about how it was captured intact, nor where or when. State television showed images of what it said was the drone: a grey, unmarked vehicle suspended in a hangar.

A spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf said none of its drones was missing, and a White House spokesman said there is “no evidence” the Iranian claim was true.

A year ago, Iran displayed a bigger and vastly more sophisticated US drone, a bat-winged stealth RQ-170 Sentinel, it said it had captured by hacking its guidance system.

US officials, after initially denying that Sentinel drone had been inside Iran airspace, ended up admitting it had been lost during a CIA mission, but contended it had likely suffered a malfunction that brought it down. US President Barack Obama unsuccessfully asked Iran to return it.

The ScanEagle that Iran says it now possesses is a much cheaper, simpler drone than the RQ-170 Sentinel. It is principally designed to feed back video images over a radio link to operators up to 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.

US and allied forces used ScanEagles in Iraq and Afghanistan, and several other countries operate the drone, including Australia, Canada, Poland and the United Arab Emirates, according to Boeing background information. The drone is also used for civilian purposes such as tracking fish or oil platform observation.