Venezuelan Army Escorts Iranian Oil Tankers

  • The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
  • Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido says the country's oil imports are a sign that officials are mismanaging the oil industry.
  • Iran has warned its tankers that it will have to retaliate if there is another threat.

The Iranian army is escorting tankers to Venezuela to deliver oil. Earlier, the United States said it could block the tanker from reaching Venezuela. The five tankers are expected to reach Venezuela soon. Venezuela’s Defense Minister noted that oil tankers will stop at the port in the special economic zone.

Iran–Venezuela relations have strengthened substantially in recent years. “Iran and Venezuela are two friendly and united states which pave their ways to further progress and welfare for their nations”, according to Iranian President Rouhani. The two countries are contemporary strategic allies.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran and Venezuela. According to some reports, Washington tried to stop the oil tankers again. “Forbidding those boats from reaching their destination would thus constitute a crime against humanity,” said Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada.

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido says the country’s oil imports are a sign that officials are mismanaging the oil industry. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. However, oil production has fallen sharply over the past two decades due to the economic crisis. Five Iranian tankers are carrying 1.5 million barrels of oil.

Refinitiv Eikon said Iranian ships had crossed the Suez Canal in early May. “This relationship between Iran and Venezuela doesn’t threaten anybody. It’s not a danger to anyone,” said Ambassador Hojjatollah Soltani at Iranian Embassy in Caracas. He added, “they can sanction whoever they want,” Soltani said. “Iran will always advance.”

Venezuela’s gross domestic product has shrunk by 50 percent since Nicolas Maduro came to power in 2013. Poverty and unemployment have forced millions to flee the country. The coronavirus pandemic and the sharp drop in oil prices have exacerbated the situation because Venezuela’s economy depends on oil exports. For months, the government had been supplying crude oil to Russia’s Rosneft in exchange for gasoline.

However, in February and March, the company suspended operations in Venezuela after the United States imposed sanctions on people with ties to Rosneft. Since then, the Venezuelan government has imposed restrictions on oil sales, with locals queuing up at night to buy only 30 liters of gasoline.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an intergovernmental organization of 14 nations, founded on 14 September 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela), and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna, Austria.

Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s spokesman at the United Nations, said the tankers were not carrying weapons or drugs, but important goods for the country’s citizens, and that the trade was legal. “In a pandemic, disrupting oil tankers would be a crime against humanity,” Moncada said.

Iran has warned its tankers that it will have to retaliate if there is another threat. There are US warships in the Caribbean. They are mainly fighting against drug trafficking. So far, Washington has not said a word about stopping oil tankers.

Trump’s National Security Council tweeted Monday that “our maximum pressure campaign, which includes financial & economic sanctions, will continue until Maduro’s tyrannical hold ends.” The NSC added that “the humanitarian & economic crisis endured by Venezuelans is the fault of 1 person – Maduro.”

Adm. Craig Faller, the top U.S. military official in Latin America, said “it fits a larger pattern of Iran trying to gain positional advantage in our neighborhood in a way that would counter U.S. interests.” Faller said in a webcast event, “I’ve seen those same news reports that the tankers are en route.” He added, “we see the long hand of that Iranian malfeasance at work each and every day.”

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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