Iran has sent five ocean-going tankers loaded with an estimated 1.53 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela, a move that has reportedly received threats from Washington. Tehran, in response, promised “retaliation” if the US moves to act against the ships.
The first of five Iranian fuel tankers, the ‘Fortune’, has entered the Venezuelan exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on late Saturday, according to data from Refiniv Eikon.
Ealier, Iran sent the tankers to the Latin American country amid an oil crisis fueled by sanctions imposed on both Venezuela and Iran by the administration of US President Donald Trump.
The other four tankers – the Clavel, the Forest, the Faxon and the Petunia – are currently en route to the country, amid fears in Caracas that Washington could use military force against the Iranian vessels detailed in a letter to UN Security Council.
The flotilla is thought to be carrying, by some estimates, about 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate, a key fuel additive.According to reports, the Fortune was escorted by the PO-13 Yekuana Navy vessel before entering the exclusive economic zone of Venezuela.Hours before the Fortune reached the Venezuela’s EEZ, reports emerged that PO-11 Guaiquerí would overtake and escort the Fortune, as PO-13 Yekuana had reportedly been set to return for the escort of the next Iranian vessel in line.
Before the Fortune reached the EEZ of Venezuela, videoclips of one of its escorting vessels, the PO-13 Yekuana – while waiting for the boat to arrive – were shown on the country’s national TV and then shared on social media.
Tehran has warned Washington that the Trump administration will “face retaliation” if the Iranian fleet en route to Venezuela is challenged.“If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face trouble caused by the Americans, [the US] will also be in trouble”, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said.
The warning came as the White House, according to a report by Reuters, is mulling additional penalties to prevent Iran from delivering fuel to the country. No official announcements from the president’s office on intentions to act against the tanker have emerged.The Venezuelan oil sector is currently facing a crisis amid sanctions imposed on the country by the Trump administration, leading to fuel shortages in the South American nation.