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Iran has warned the United States not to interfere with any Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela in Caribbean waters, Iran’s foreign ministry said on Sunday, following reports that the U.S. could consider measures in response to those shipments.
Last week, a senior U.S. Administration official told Reuters that the United States was looking into measures that it could take in response to shipments of fuel from the Islamic Republic to the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
Crisis-hit Venezuela is now reeling from severe U.S. sanctions on its oil industry, years of lack of investments in maintaining its dilapidated refineries, the coronavirus pandemic, and low oil prices. Fuel shortages in the South American country sitting on top of the world’s largest oil reserves are more acute than before.
Iran and Venezuela, both under strict U.S. sanctions, have reportedly boosted their cooperation in recent months. Last month, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said that Maduro’s regime in Venezuela is paying Iran in gold for help with Venezuela’s crumbling oil industry.
According to tanker-tracking data provided to Reuters by Refinitiv Eikon, at least one tanker has loaded fuel at an Iranian port and is currently traveling to Venezuela.
“Following the release of reports suggesting U.S. officials had threatened to harass Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, warned the United States about sending troops to the Caribbean Sea with the aim of interfering with the transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela,” Iran’s foreign ministry said on Sunday.
In addition, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, summoned the ambassador of Switzerland, which represents the U.S. interests in Iran, and “asked the top diplomat to relay to Washington officials Iran’s serious warning over any possible threat by the U.S. against Iranian tankers,” Iran said.
“Zarif stressed that the U.S. must give up bullying on the world stage and respect the rule of international law, especially free shipping in the high seas,” Iran’s foreign ministry said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.