US seizes Iranian fuel cargoes for first time: WSJ
Iran Press TV
Thursday, 13 August 2020 11:17 PM
The US government has for the first time seized vessels allegedly carrying Iran's gasoline to Venezuela, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In the past, Iran managed to send five ships -- Fortune, Forest, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel -- carrying Iranian fuel to Venezuela in May and June to help revive oil refineries in the South American country, which is suffering from a severe fuel shortage caused by US sanctions.
Iran's fuel shipments have drawn the ire of the US, which has imposed draconian sanctions on Iran and Venezuela with the aim of crippling their oil sectors.
Last month, US prosecutors lodged a lawsuit to seize the gasoline aboard four other tankers that Iran is trying to ship to Venezuela, a move seen as the latest attempt by the Trump administration to increase economic pressure on the two countries.
The lawsuit sought to stop the flow of revenues from oil sales to Iran, which was sanctioned by Washington, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing US officials.
The four vessels, called Luna, Pandi, Bering and Bella, were seized on the high seas recently and are now en route to Houston, the WSJ said.
It added that top administration officials are likely to meet the tankers at an event scheduled to mark the docking.
According to one official, the vessels had been seized without the use of military force.
The United States had threatened stiff sanctions against foreign governments, shipping firms, seaports, and insurers if they aid the Iranian tankers.
In a letter to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in May, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a stern warning against the US' provocative acts through dispatching its naval forces to the Caribbean Sea with the goal of disrupting the course of Iranian tankers carrying fuel for Venezuela.
Zarif described "the illegal, dangerous and provocative US threats [against the Iranian tankers]" as a form of piracy and a big threat to international peace and security.
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