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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Boosting Economic, Security Ties With Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba - SOUTHCOM Chief

Sputnik News


WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Iran is expanding its economic and security relationships with Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela, enabling the Caracas government to defy US and allied-imposed sanctions, Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) chief Gen. Laura Richardson said in a congressional testimony on Thursday.

"Iran expanded economic and security cooperation with Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia through fuel transfers, bartering, food staples, and military assistance, reducing the effects of US sanctions," Richardson told the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

Iran's support has been particularly important in providing aid to the cash-strapped government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Richardson said.

"The Iranian regime purchased gold from illegal gold mines in Venezuela, allowing the Maduro regime to evade sanctions and finance its oppressive activities against its citizens," she said.

In 2021, two Iranian warships were bound for Venezuela, potentially carrying weapons and missile attack boats but were thwarted in their efforts by US diplomatic moves, Richardson added.

At the time, the Venezuelan foreign minister called the relations with Iran "strategic" saying that "Iran is a strategic friend of the Venezuelan government, people and president."

On September 16, 2021, an Iran-flagged supertanker loaded with 2 million barrels of heavy crude purchased from Venezuelan state-run oil company Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA) set sail from Venezuelan waters, in defiance of the US sanctions.

Venezuela's crude oil is shipped to Iran according to an agreement between PDVSA and National Iranian Oil Company on exchanging Iranian condensate for Venezuela's heavy crude to help the country ease an acute shortage of fuel.

© Sputnik

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