Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Iran Says ‘All Options’ on Table if US Hinders Fuel Shipments to Venezuela

Iran Says ‘All Options’ on Table if US Hinders Fuel Shipments to Venezuela

Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 - 07:45
The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower conducts a combined air wing operation with a B-52 Bomber from US Air Forces Central Command in the Arabian Sea, March 18, 2020. (Central Command)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat

The Iranian government announced that all options are available in response to any American move against its five oil tankers bound to Venezuela to transport fuel, in defiance of US sanctions.

For the second time in a week, government spokesman Ali Rabiei stated Iran’s desire to continue exporting oil to Venezuela and establishing trade relations with Caracas, which is under US sanctions.

“No country is required to comply with the United States’ unilateral sanctions,” he stressed.

In response to a question on Iran’s possible response to US threats to prevent oil exports from Iran to Venezuela, the official said his country wants to be assured of the absence of US “piracy”.

He expressed hope that the international community would take a step in this regard.

“We hope that America does not make such a mistake … If they take any action, we reserve the right to respond and will respond accordingly,” Rabiei noted.

At least one tanker carrying fuel loaded at an Iranian port has set sail for Venezuela, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon last week, which could help ease an acute scarcity of gasoline in the South American country.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi warned Monday that that the US will receive a “serious response” from Iran if it carries out any action against its oil tankers.

“I hope that the Americans will not do anything stupid, because that will face a serious response from Iran,” the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

“The activities of these ships are completely official and legal. In fact, this is being done within the framework of free trade, and there is no legal obstacle to doing this legitimate trade.”

He described threats by US officials as “shameless,” stressing that “any US response against the legal navigation of our ships will be met with a decisive response, and America shall bear its repercussions.”

Iran complained to the United Nations on Sunday and summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents US interests in the country, over possible measures Washington could take against the fuel shipment to Venezuela.

A senior official in President Donald Trump’s administration told Reuters on Thursday Washington was considering measures it could take in response to Iran.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi passed on a message to the ambassador warning against any US threat against the tankers, according to a report on the foreign ministry website.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also wrote a letter to UN chief Antonio Guterres warning that any American measures against the shipment would be dangerous, illegal and a form of piracy, the report added.

Editor Picks