The Trump administration has successfully seized Iranian fuel from four oil tankers traveling to Venezuela, increasing their “maximum pressure campaign” against Tehran, a senior US official confirmed to Fox. News on Thursday night.
Iran and Venezuela have been trying to get past the sanctions the US has on both countries by forming an oil partnership.
The confiscated goods, first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, were a direct violation of US sanctions. A senior official made it clear that the tankers were not arrested but that the oil is now owned by the United States.
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Federal prosecutors are believed to have filed a complaint and seizure warrant in Washington, DC alleging that all “oil products”; on the four ships known as Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna are “the source of the photo. benefits “for the Islamic Revolutionary Guardians. The corps, a branch of the Iranian armed forces.
The United States has designated the Security Force as a terrorist organization and thus claims that the sale of oil from Iran to Venezuela financially sponsors the Security Force and its militant actions.
President Trump has also increased U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil, preventing them from selling oil to other countries without being subject to U.S. sanctions.
Sanctions on Venezuela mean a lack of business and investment in the country’s refineries, leaving them unable to produce oil supplies, which makes the country desperate for oil.
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“Iran’s tankers to Venezuela are nothing but distraction from the real problems facing them.” [President Nicolás] Maduro, “a State Department spokesman told Fox News in May when the United States first encountered the shipments.” These shipments will not help the Venezuelan people, they will only help support the old Maduro regime for a while longer. “
Venezuela’s sanctions are an attempt to persuade Maduro to resign, or at least ensure he doesn’t take advantage of it and continue the reported human rights violations.
Iran has been subject to US sanctions as a strategy to prevent it from investing and developing its nuclear capabilities.
“We are two revolutionary rebels who never kneel to North American imperialism,” Maduro said during a televised event in May.
The four vessels that US officials stopped were privately owned vessels, originally operating as part of a fleet of nine tankers. The other five tankers are Iranian ships escorted by the Iranian navy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The US said it had contacted the owners of the ships before seizing the oil.
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on the international community not to allow the current arms embargo against Iran to expire next October.
“Tehran will become an arms dealer for Maduro and Assad in the world, Israel’s archenemy like Hamas and Hezbollah will be better equipped, European countries will be at risk.” Mr. Pompeo mentioned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a press conference last month.
Fox News’s Rich Edson contributed to this report.