First of five Iranian tanker crosses into Venezuela’s economic zone

The first of five Iranian tankers filled with gasoline made it to Venezuelan waters late on Saturday. 

The oil tanker Fortune was welcomed by Venezuelan officials who celebrated the growing relationship with Iran spurred by Trump administration sanctions to both countries.

‘Iran and Venezuela have always supported each other in times of difficulty,’ Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted. ‘Today, the first ship with gasoline arrives for our people.’ 

Russ Dallen, head of Caracas Capital Markets, confirmed the ship’s location using tracing technology. The Clavel, the last of the five ships, is roughly 3.5 days away, he explained to ABC News.

The oil tanker Fortune was welcomed by Venezuelan officials who celebrated the growing relationship with Iran as it made its way on Saturday night

The oil tanker Fortune was welcomed by Venezuelan officials who celebrated the growing relationship with Iran as it made its way on Saturday night

The oil tanker Fortune was welcomed by Venezuelan officials who celebrated the growing relationship with Iran as it made its way on Saturday night

Russ Dallen, head of Caracas Capital Markets, confirmed the ship's location using tracing technology. The Clavel, the last of the five ships, is roughly 3.5 days away

Russ Dallen, head of Caracas Capital Markets, confirmed the ship's location using tracing technology. The Clavel, the last of the five ships, is roughly 3.5 days away

Russ Dallen, head of Caracas Capital Markets, confirmed the ship’s location using tracing technology. The Clavel, the last of the five ships, is roughly 3.5 days away

 It is estimated that the Iranian tankers have enough gasoline to supply the South American company for two to three weeks. 

The U.S. government has accused Iran and other nations of supporting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who won his 2018 election by illegitimately banned other opponents. 

Iran has also flown shipments of key chemicals needed to help jump start a Venezuelan oil refinery and produce gasoline. 

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the U.S. not to interfere with the shipment. 

He said that the United States created ‘unacceptable conditions’ for other parts of the world but stressed that Iran would ‘by no means’ 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 added. ‘We hope the Americans will not make a mistake.’ 

The Trump administration has recently deployed ships, including Navy destroyers and other combat ships, to patrol the area in what they are calling a drug interdiction mission.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pictured in 2016

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pictured in 2016

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pictured in 2016

'Iran and Venezuela have always supported each other in times of difficulty,' Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted. 'Today, the first ship with gasoline arrives for our people'

'Iran and Venezuela have always supported each other in times of difficulty,' Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted. 'Today, the first ship with gasoline arrives for our people'

‘Iran and Venezuela have always supported each other in times of difficulty,’ Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted. ‘Today, the first ship with gasoline arrives for our people’

Maduro and his government believe the move is a direct threat. The Trump administration also recently offered a $15million bounty for his arrest.

With assistance from the military, along with powers like China and Russia, Maduro has managed to stay in power. The U.S. has accused them of ‘malign activities and meddling’ around the world.

‘We will not abide by their support of the illegitimate and tyrannical regime of Nicolás Maduro,’ the Trump administration said in a statement. ‘Will continue until Maduro’s hold on Venezuela is over.’

Maduro appeared on state TV ahead of the ships’ arrivals and vowed to respond to any aggression made by the U.S. against the tankers.  

‘They want to enslave us,’ Maduro said Thursday. ‘If you want peace, you must be prepared to defend it.’

According to Vladimir Padrino Lopez, Maduro’s defense minister, armed forces are prepared to welcome and escort each ship.   

Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society research center, declared that any U.S. action would ‘too easily escalate’ tension. 

‘(That) would needlessly undermine the narrative that Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven oil supply, has to import gasoline from Iran of all places because they have become such an international pariah,’ Farnsworth said. ‘If they don’t, Caracas claims a great victory for the fatherland and tries to portray the U.S. as impotent.’

Link hienalouca.com

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