Iran vs USA: Tehran threatens ‘immediate response’ if US blockades Venezuela bound tankers
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Tehran has branded the US as “pirates” and warned they would retaliate if any of their vessels were stopped by the US in the Caribbean. At present five Iranian tankers laden with fuel are sailing towards Venezuela. Venezuela, whose president has been at odds with the US, is in a crisis-stricken state and Iran believes senior US officials are determined to stop the shipment of fuel.
Tensions have now escalated with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warning the United States about “sending troops to the Caribbean Sea with the aim of interfering with the transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela.”
In a scathing attack, Mr Zarif added the US must “give up bullying on the world stage” and respect international maritime law.
He said any interfere with the fuel shipment would be considered an act of “piracy and a major peril to international peace and security”.
The comments were released on the Iranian Foreign Ministry website.
Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran and told the Swiss, who represent US interests in Iran, any threat from Washington against the tankers will be met with an “immediate and firm response.”
The US government is reportedly proposing to block the tanker as it breaks unilateral sanctions targeting Iran and Venezuela’s oil industry.
Tehran has already helped President Nicolas Maduro by flying planes with chemicals for refineries amid a gasoline shortage.
This is a stark symptom of economic and political chaos in Latin America’s one-time largest oil producer.
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The US claim Venezuela is paying Iran in gold to help its troubled energy sector.
The five Iranian tankers are estimated to be carrying at least £37 million ($45.5million) in fuel.
Four of the oil vessels are already in the Atlantic after passing through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, according to ship-tracking service MarineTraffic.
One of the vessels, the Clavel, is still in the Mediterranean as of May 18.
The latest tensions come after the US Navy in April accused Iran of harassing its ships in the Persian Gulf.
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