Rouhani says Iran to retaliate over any USA 'trouble' for Venezuela tankers

Elias Hubbard
May 23, 2020

Five Iranian tankers apparently consisting of at least $45.5 million in value of gasoline and similar items are now sailing to Venezuela in defiance of USA sanctions, reported the Associated Press on Sunday.

While a cold war with China is working its way towards the inevitable, another situation is developing that could lead to physical clashes between Iran and the United States over the former's attempts to ship fuel to Venezuela amid the collapse of its refining industry.

A senior USA official told Reuters on May 14 that the Trump administration is reviewing measures it could take in response to the shipment.

The United States recently beefed up its naval presence in the Caribbean for what it said was an expanded anti-drug operation.

Five Iranian oil tankers are on approach to Venezuela as we speak.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez announced earlier this week that Caracas will send ships and aircraft to meet the tankers once they enter the country's exclusive economic zone.

The four other vessels are following the same route across the Atlantic Ocean.

The OPEC-member country desperately needs fuel to feed up to 1,800 gasoline stations that have been partially closed for weeks due to insufficient supply from state-run PDVSA's refineries, which until March worked at about 10 percent of their joint capacity of 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd). Imported alkylate could improve the quality of domestic gasoline.

This followed Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi warning late last week that the U.S. may "suffer repercussions that arise out of any unthinking measure [that it could take]" against Venezuelan-bound Iranian fuel tankers.

Earlier this week, Iran's Foreign Ministry pledged a "decisive response" to possible U.S. attempts to intercept Iranian tankers that are now en route to Venezuela with a cargo of fuel.

Fuel sales at stations declined to about 40,000 bpd due to rationing, according to independent calculations. Shipments of equipment in flights by Iran's Mahar Air have arrived in Venezuela in recent weeks to start fix work.

The US Treasury Department this week blacklisted the Chinese firm that provided the refinery parts.

He said that if the USA "does not like a country, this does not give it any grounds to prevent legal trade among countries, [take them under] sanctions, and cause trouble for them".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article