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Daily News Analysis

Defying US threats, second Iranian oil tanker delivers fuel to Venezuela

Tahir Mustafa

Venezuelans welcome second Iranian tanker bringing fuel and alkalytes to the sanctions-hit Latin American country defying US threats of piracy and gangsterism.

Defying US gangsterism, the second of five Iranian tankers carrying fuel to sanctions-hit Venezuela moored at a northwestern port in the Latin American country yesterday (May 26), Iran’s television network, Press TV reported.

The crew of the Iranian tanker, Forest, were warmly welcomed by the authorities and workers of the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

Waving flags of the two countries (Iran and Venezuela), the Venezuelan authorities and PDVSA employees at the port in the Carirbuna autonomous municipality of Falcon state cheered the crew as the tanker docked.

To show appreciation for Iran’s help and solidarity in these trying times, Venezuelans throughout the sanctions-hit country have taken to the Internet.

The hashtag #GraciasIran (Thank You Iran) has become the number-one Twitter trend in Venezuela as Iranian tankers start delivering much-needed gasoline to the Latin American country facing a fuel crisis.

Iran has sent five tankers loaded with 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate to Venezuela to help its oil refineries amid a fuel crisis caused by the illegal US-sanctions aimed at crippling its economy and bringing the government of President Nicolas Maduro to its knees.

Three tankers—Fortune, Forest and Petunia—have already reached Venezuela under military escort. The first two have docked while the third has entered Venezuelan territorial waters.

Two other vessels—Faxon and Clavel—are also scheduled to arrive soon.

All five tankers are flying the Iranian flag.

The US had threatened to intercept the tankers before reaching Venezuela. This would be a declaration of war against Iran.

The US navy has deployed ships to the Caribbean in an attempt to intimidate Iran and prevent it from delivering the fuel.

Both the Foreign Ministry in Tehran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps warned the US of swift reaction if any tankers were intercepted in international waters.

Such action would be tantamount to piracy on the high seas.

In late April, Iran’s Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif wrote to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres about US threats to shipping in international waters.

Similarly, Iran’s Foreign Ministry had called the Swiss envoy in Tehran, that represents US interests in the Islamic Republic, to convey to Washington in clear terms to desist from acts of piracy or face serious consequences.

Iran’s ambassador to Caracas, Hojatollah Soltani, welcoming the delivery of fuel to Venezuela said the sanctions that the US has imposed on independent countries such as Iran and Venezuela are no longer effective.

He made the remarks in an interview with Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam television news network yesterday (May 26), as reported by Press TV.

“Unilateral US sanctions against Venezuela, Iran and several other countries have lost their effectiveness,” Ambassador Soltani told Al-Alam.

“The US has been trying to use [the] dollar as leverage to help its own economy flourish and exert pressure on other states, but countries opposed to the US do not submit to American bullying,” the Iranian envoy added.

Ambassador Soltani further explained that Iran’s shipment of fuel and raw materials to Venezuela was based on existing international protocols and maritime law.

The arrival of Iranian tankers “is a great and historic day for the two countries—Iran and Venezuela—which pursue independent policies and are [thus] under US pressure. It is a victory for the entire international community,” the Iranian envoy said.

The Iranian envoy also rejected Western media reports of the transfer of nine tons of gold to Iran from Venezuela as “absolutely untrue”.

While the US has imposed a raft of illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic to force it to submit to US bullying, Tehran has stood firm.

It has not only withstood US bullying tactics, it has also extended a hand of friendship and solidarity to countries like Venezuela that are subjected to similar illegal sanctions.

The US also tried to carry out a coup in Venezuela and appointed its own puppet, Juan Guaidó, to take over but the bid was foiled.

The people of Venezuela continue to support their elected president Nicolas Maduro refusing to accept a US puppet as president.

Maduro was elected president after the former popular leader Hugo Chavez, died of cancer at a relatively young age of 54.

Chavez, a former paratroop commander, was instrumental in ending America’s domination of Venezuela to exploit its vast oil and mineral resources.

Both Islamic Iran and Venezuela have shown that it is possible to stand up to US gangsterism and thwart its disruptive policies of bullying.

More countries need to assert their dignity, sovereignty and self-respect by rejecting US threats.

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