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Iran warns US against attempts to block fuel delivery to Venezuela

Tehran: Iranian officials have warned the US against any attempt to block the fuel delivery by Iranian tankers to Venezuela.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday that “the illegal, dangerous and provocative US threats” against the Iranian tankers was a form of piracy and a big threat to international peace and security, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The US must stop acting as a bully at the international level and respect the rule of international laws, in particular the right to free shipping in free waters,” he said in his letter.

Zarif noted that the US administration would be responsible for the consequences of any “illegal move”.

Also on Sunday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi summoned the Swiss Ambassador, whose country represents US interests in Tehran, to voice the Islamic Republic’s strong protest at what he called American “provocations”.

Araqchi urged the Swiss envoy to convey “the Islamic Republic’s serious warnings to the American officials against any possible threat posed by the US to the Iranian oil tankers”.

Iran and Venezuela enjoy “completely legitimate and legal trade relations”, he added.

On Saturday, Hamid Hosseini, the spokesman for the Iranian Association of Exports of Crude Products, said that the US would be practically unable to block shipments of fuel from Iran to Venezuela at a time when the two countries need to cooperate to mitigate the impacts of American sanctions on their energy sectors.

He described Iran’s decision to ship large consignments of gasoline to Venezuela as the right move which is meant to help Caracas tackle its fuel shortage.

He also said Iran should continue to export more of such shipments in the future to offset a reduction in domestic demand for the fuel which has come as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On May 13, media reports said that “at least one tanker carrying fuel loaded at an Iranian port has set sail for Venezuela … which could help ease an acute scarcity of gasoline in the South American country”.

The next day, the White House announced that the US was considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.