The Trump administration has successfully seized Iranian fuel from four sailing tankers in Venezuela, stepping up their “maximum pressure campaign” against Tehran, a senior US official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday evening.
Iran and Venezuela have tried to overcome US sanctions imposed on both countries by forming an oil partnership.
The confiscated carriage, first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, was a direct violation of U.S. sanctions. A senior official clarified that the tanks were not seized, but the oil is now in US possession.
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Federal prosecutors reported that a complaint and confiscation order was filed in Washington, claiming that all “oil products”; aboard the four ships referred to as Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna were a “source of influence” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Corps, a branch in the Iranian armed forces.
The United States has designated the Guard a terrorist organization and has therefore claimed that the sale of oil from Iran to Venezuela financially sponsors the Guard and their militant actions.
President Trump has also stepped up US sanctions on Venezuelan-owned oil, preventing them from selling oil to other countries without enduring US sanctions.
Sanctions against Venezuela have meant a lack of business and investment in its oil refineries, preventing them from being able to produce oil supplies, which has left the country desperate for oil resources.
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“Iranian oil tankers arriving in Venezuela are nothing but a distraction from the real problems they face. [President Nicolás] Maduro, “a State Department spokesman told Fox News in May when the U.S. first caught the smell of shipments.” These remittances will do nothing to help the Venezuelans, they will only help to support the former Maduro regime for a little longer. “
The Venezuelan sanctions are an attempt to persuade Maduro to step down, or at least ensure that he does not make a profit and continue the reported human rights abuses.
Iran has been passing US sanctions as a strategy to prevent the country from investing and developing its nuclear capabilities.
“We are two revolutionary rebellious peoples who will never kneel before North American imperialism,” Maduro said at a televised event in May.
The four vessels detained by U.S. officials were privately owned vessels, originally sailing as part of nine fleets of tankers. The other five tanks were Iranian ships escorted by the Iranian navy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. reportedly contacted shipowners before seizing the oil.
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged the international community not to allow the current arms embargo imposed on Iran to expire in October.
“Tehran will become an arms dealer for Maduro and the Assad of the world, Israel’s sworn enemies like Hamas and Hezbollah will be more armed, European nations will be endangered,” Pompeo said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. a press conference last month.
Fox News’ Rich Edson contributed to this report.