Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has warned that “the US itself will have to suffer repercussions that arise out of any unthinking measure [that it could take]" against Venezuelan-bound Iranian fuel tankers.
“Should the Americans take any measure against our vessels’ free and legal movement around, they would face our decisive response”, Mousavi told reporters in Tehran on Sunday.
He pointed out that if the US “does not like a country, this does not give it any grounds to prevent legal trade among countries, [take them under] sanctions, and cause trouble for them”.
Mousavi spoke as Iran’s Press TV cited an unnamed Iranian military official as saying that “international waters should remain safe either for all oil tankers or none”.
The remarks come after Iran on Sunday summoned the Swiss ambassador to the country, representing Washington's interests, to lodge a protest against the US Navy’s alleged plans to intercept its tankers that were en route to Venezuela with a cargo of fuel. The plans have not been officially confirmed by either the White House or the Pentagon.
Speaking to the ambassador, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi stressed the legality and legitimacy of the trade relations between Venezuela and Iran, adding that the US efforts to use bullying to hamper international trade is a gross violation of basic human rights and a clear "act of piracy".
He was echoed by Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif who warned the US against intercepting or pursuing Iranian tankers in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The Foreign Minister slammed the alleged plans by the US Navy to intercept the Iranian tankers as "illegal, dangerous, and provocative" acts.
Washington Reportedly Mulls Taking Action Against Iranian Tankers
The statement followed Reuters citing an unnamed American source as saying that the White House was considering taking action against the Iranian tankers as well as Tehran and Caracas.
On 15 May, the online media outlet Al-Masdar News reported that five Iranian tankers, the Fortune, the Petunia, the Forest, the Faxon, and the Clavel were crossing the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean, and suggested that the vessels were on their way to Venezuela.
Earlier, US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams claimed that Tehran is supplying Caracas with equipment needed to restart the country's refineries in exchange for gold from Venezuelan reserves, allegations that were rejected by Iran as s "baseless".
The Islamic Republic also condemned the US attempts to destroy the Venezuelan economy and to oust its President Nicolas Maduro, suggesting that Washington’s claims are nothing but a pretext for slapping new sanctions against both countries. Both Venezuela and Iran have of late been suffering due to the American restrictive measures, which in particular rode roughshod over the countries’ oil industries.