May 23, 2020
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday warned the United States not to interfere with a shipment of oil bound for Venezuela after the South American nation said it would provide an armed escort for the tankers.
In a statement posted on his website, Rouhani said the United States had created "unacceptable conditions" in different parts of the world, but that Iran would "by no means" be the one to initiate conflict.
"If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face any problems caused by the Americans, they will face problems as well," he said. "We hope the Americans will not make a mistake."
A flotilla of five tankers carrying Iranian fuel for gasoline-starved Venezuela is approaching the Caribbean, with the first vessel, Iranian-flagged tanker Fortune, expected to reach Venezeula's waters on Sunday. The Fortune has been navigating with its satellite signal on since it passed the Suez Canal earlier in May. The four other vessels are following the same route across the Atlantic Ocean.
Venezuela said Wednesday that planes and ships from the nation's armed forces will escort the tankers in case of any U.S. aggression.
A force of U.S. vessels, including Navy destroyers and other combat ships, patrol the Caribbean on what U.S. officials call a drug interdiction mission. Venezuelan officials paint them as a threat, but U.S. officials have not announced any plans to intercept the Iranian tankers.
\u201cThe gall of the Trump administration. Iran is shipping gasoline to Venezuela. Ships to arrive tomorrow. US says this is a violation of US sanctions. WHAT THE HECK does this have to do with the US??? Leave Venezuela and Iran and the rest of the world alone! #NoWar\u201d— Medea Benjamin (@Medea Benjamin) 1590252635
\u201c#BREAKING: "Fortune", the first out of five #Iranian tankers carrying fuel from #Iran to #Venezuela is about to enter the territorial waters of the country. This is Yekuana (PC-23), a Guaiquer\u00ed-class patrol boat which is going to escort "Fortune".\u201d— Babak Taghvaee - The Crisis Watch (@Babak Taghvaee - The Crisis Watch) 1590253132
\u201cToday we alerted the UN Security Council and Secretary General Antonio Guterres of the threat of imminent use of military force by the United States against Iranian vessels carrying Venezuelan-directed gasoline. An act of war under international law.\n\nSee here:\u201d— Samuel Moncada (@Samuel Moncada) 1590179568
\u201cAgainst all odds, the brave town of Iran sends 5 gasoline tankers to Venezuela, defying the coercive and illegal measures of the USA, against Venezuela,\n\nA Iranian fuel tanker, #Fortune, is now entering the territorial waters of Venezuela and breaking the US blockade #GraciasIran\u201d— Right word (@Right word) 1590225833
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