- The lawsuit alleges that Iran spends its proceeds on fuel exports to Venezuela on militant activities.
- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened to confront Iran following the news of the export of Iranian oil to Venezuela.
- Sanctions aim to change Iranian behavior and remove Maduro from Venezuela.
Donald Trump’s administration has instructed prosecutors to file a lawsuit to seize four Iranian tankers carrying gasoline to Venezuela, according to Reuters. The lawsuit aims to seize Iranian tankers, prevent future deliveries of gasoline to Venezuela, and increase sanctions and economic pressure on both.
The lawsuit alleges that Iran spends its proceeds on fuel exports to Venezuela on militant activities, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and military equipment and weapons in support of terrorism and human rights abuses.
Another goal of the lawsuit is to block as much as possible the revenue channels of the Iranian government through the sale of oil. Since 2018, the United States has imposed “maximum sanctions” on Iran’s oil exports, following its withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
The aims were pushing the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear program, limit the development of ballistic missile development, and curtail its military influence in the Middle East.
Reuters quoted several US attorneys as saying that an Iranian businessman named Mahmoud Madanipoor had circumvented US sanctions by seizing documents related to Iranian tankers and transporting and sending fuel to Venezuela. The Islamic Republic of Iran has sent five tankers, carrying 1.5 million barrels, to Venezuela since April.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened to confront Iran following the news of the export of Iranian oil to Venezuela. Despite that, the United States has so far taken no action to prevent Iranian tankers from passing through and delivering fuel to Venezuela.
The United States has threatened to impose sanctions on insurance and shipping companies and all companies that cooperate with Iran and Venezuela. Despite the threats, Reuters quoted several officials from the Ministry of Petroleum, as well as the Revolutionary Guards, as saying that the country would continue to export to Venezuela.
Iran and Venezuela have been sanctioned by the United States. In addition to “maximum pressure” on Iran, Washington seeks the removal of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and the transfer of power to Juan Guaido. The President of the National Assembly, Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela last January. He has been recognized by 60 countries.
Also, Venezuela’s special envoy for US affairs, Elliott Abrams, has said that the campaign against Iran and Venezuela will continue until it becomes clear to everyone that any cooperation or service to Iran will have dangerous consequences.
He said that his country had warned shipping companies, ship owners, and foreign insurers around the world not to provide services to Iranian oil tankers on the Venezuelan route.
On June 28, the Venezuelan navy escorted Iran’s fourth tanker in its waters to the country’s ports. “We have warned shipping companies around the world, ship owners, shipping fleets and insurers, as well as ports along the route between Iran and Venezuela,” Abrams said in an interview. He also said the United States had given diplomatic warnings to states around the world in private messages.