US officials said on Thursday, the Trump administration detained cargo of four oil tankers it targeted to deliver Iranian fuel to Venezuela, US officials said on Thursday, as they pushed Strong campaign to exert maximum pressure against two heavily punished allies.
Last month, federal prosecutors in Washington filed a civil foreclosure claim alleging the sale was arranged by a businessman, Mahmoud Madanipour, with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a group. a foreign terrorist organization appointed by the US.
At that time, sanctions experts thought it would be impossible to enforce the US court order in international waters.
A senior US official told the AP news agency that no military force was used in the arrest and the ships were not confiscated. Instead, US officials threatened ship owners, insurance companies and captains to force them to hand over their goods, which have now become US property, the official said.
Prosecutors allege the four ships shipped 1.1 million barrels of gas to Venezuela. But the tankers never arrived in the South American country and went missing. Two of the ships later reappeared near Cape Verde, a second US official said.
Both officials agreed to discuss sensitive diplomatic and judicial attacks only if anonymity was allowed.
“This is a lie and another psychological warfare act done by the American propaganda machine,” Soltani said. “#Trump terrorists cannot compensate for the humiliation and defeat against Iran by using false propaganda.”
It’s unclear where the ships – Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna – or where their cargo are currently, but the captains last week turned off the tracking device to hide their location, says Russ Dallen, a brokerage partner in Miami said. Caracas Capital Markets, the ship’s motion tracker.
Mr. Dallen said the Bering started evening May 11 in the Mediterranean near Greece and did not turn on its transmitter, while the Bella did the same on July 2 in the Philippines. Luna and Pandi were last discovered when they were together in the Gulf of Oman on July 10 when a US arrest warrant was issued. Shipping data shows Pandi, also run by Andy, is reporting that it has been “broken up” or sold as scrap, Dallen said.
As commercial traders increasingly shun Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government is increasingly turning to Iran.
In May, Maduro celebrated the arrival of five Iranian oil tankers, supplying fuel much needed to alleviate shortages that resulted in gas lines lasting even days. in the capital Caracas, which usually doesn’t have such trouble.
Despite the world’s largest crude reserves, Venezuela does not produce enough refined gasoline domestically and has seen its overall crude output drop to its lowest level in more than seven decades in The context of economic crisis and the impact of US sanctions.
The Trump administration has increased pressure on ship owners to comply with sanctions against US adversaries Iran, Venezuela and North Korea. In May, it issued an advice urging the global maritime industry to watch out for tactics to evade sanctions such as dangerous transshipment and the shutdown of mandatory trackers – both techniques are used in recent oil shipments to and from. Iran and Venezuela.
According to prosecutors, one of the companies involved in the shipment to Venezuela, the Avantgarde Group, had previously been linked with the Revolutionary Guard and tried to evade US sanctions.
A subsidiary of Avantgarde has facilitated the purchase of a ship for the Grace Force 1 Revolutionary Guard, a ship captured by the British last year on allegations of shipping oil to Syria by the United States. Iran denied the allegations and Grace 1 was eventually released. However, the arrest caused an international stalemate in which Iran retaliated by detaining a British-flagged vessel.
According to the foreclosure complaint, an anonymous company in February invoiced Avantgarde a $ 14.9 million cash payment for the sale of gasoline aboard Pandi. However, a text message between Madanipour and an unnamed accomplice indicated that the trip had been difficult.
“The owner did not want to go because of the US threat, but we wanted him to go, and we even agreed. We will also buy the ship,” according to the message, an excerpt from the complaint.