As the world turns its attention to the Coronavirus pandemic, tensions between Iran and the United States (USA) grow. On this occasion, the conflict lies in five tankers, Iranian supertankers bound for Venezuela, called Fortune, Petunia, Forrest, Faxon and Clavel. The fleet has an approximate capacity of 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate (TankerTrackers.com), which would be supplied to Venezuela to cover the emergency of gasoline shortages and as raw material for the distillation of oil in Venezuela. Consequently, Iran warns the United States not to interfere with oil tankers transporting fuel to Venezuela.
According to the Guardian, this is what Hassan Rouhani mentioned in a telephone conversation with the emir of Qatar as the fleet of five oil tankers approaches the Caribbean.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned on Saturday of retaliatory measures against the United States if Washington causes problems for tankers transporting Iranian fuel to Venezuela.
“If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face problems caused by the Americans, they [the United States] will also be in trouble,” Rouhani said in a phone conversation with the Emir of Qatar, the news agency. semi-official Mehr reported.
A fleet of five tankers transporting Iranian fuel for Venezuela, starved of gasoline, is approaching the Caribbean, and the first is expected to reach the country’s waters on Sunday, according to monitoring data from Refinitiv Eikon.
“Iran will never start a conflict,” said Rouhani. “We always have a legitimate right to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity and to serve our national interests, and we hope that Americans will not make a mistake.”
The shipments have caused a diplomatic showdown between Iran and Venezuela and the US. Since both nations are under US sanctions. USA Washington is considering measures in response, according to a senior US official who did not elaborate on the options being considered.
The United States recently reinforced its naval presence in the Caribbean by what it said was an expanded anti-drug operation. A Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Thursday that he was unaware of any operations related to Iranian shipments.
Venezuela’s defense minister said his army will escort Iranian oil tankers once they reach the nation’s exclusive economic zone.
Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf last year after British forces detained an Iranian oil tanker outside of Gibraltar territory. Both ships were released after a months-long clash.
Venezuela recently arrested mercenaries, including US citizens who failed to organize an operation to kidnap the president, Nicolás Maduro.
The failed raid provided a propaganda blessing for Maduro, who long claimed to be the subject of a US-sponsored assassination plot.