The fleet is carrying 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and components and is arriving amid tensions between Tehran and Washington, which has imposed sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports and Iran.
“The Iranian oil/chem Handymax tanker, FORTUNE, which loaded 43 million liters of gasoline during mid-March at Port Shahid Rajaee, Iran, has now moored at berth 2 at the refinery of El Palito, Venezuela, situated west of the capital city, Caracas,” tweeted TankerTrackers.com.
A second vessel, the Forest, entered the Caribbean Sea on Saturday. The three remaining vessels — the Petunia, Faxon and Clavel — are crossing the Atlantic and will arrive in the next few days.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro thanked Iran on Sunday.
“I want to thank from the noblest heart all the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran, President Hassan Rouhani, my friend and counterpart. To Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the loyal follower of the historical legacy of Ayatollah Khomeini. To all of Iran, from the heart, for your solidarity, for your support, for your courage, for your decision. Yesterday, the tanker arrived in Venezuela, at the end of Ramadan, the sacred month of our Muslim brothers. The ship Fortune has arrived. The first of five ships bringing gasoline, which brings supplies to make gasoline in Venezuela. An agreement of cooperation that we have with Iran,” Maduro said in a state television address.
He said Venezuela and Iran “both want peace, and we have the right to trade freely.”
Maduro referred to the two countries as “revolutionary peoples who will never kneel down before the North American empire.”
The US said earlier this month it was considering “measures” to take in response to the shipments, without providing specifics.
Venezuela’s refining network has been operating this year at about 10 percent of its 1.3 million-barrel-per-day capacity, forcing it to rely on imports. US sanctions limit the sources and types of fuel it can receive.
Maduro said the tankers were bringing gasoline and other materials to the country’s refineries to produce gasoline.
Venezuela’s permanent representative to the UN welcomed the arrival of Iranian tankers, urging US President Donald Trump to avoid an act of aggression based on the “wrong advice” of warmongers.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, Samuel Moncada cited an open letter to Trump, written by a group of 14 retired experts of the US intelligence community, who warned him against a military attack on the Venezuela-bound Iranian fuel tankers.
“The Iranian gasoline reaching Venezuela is a landmark in the struggle for sovereignty, independence and peace. Trump and his minions are thinking of a military attack against the tankers amidst the pandemic. His experts advise him otherwise,” he wrote.
Moncada also enumerated the arguments provided by the experts against any “unnecessary adventure” by the US against Iranian vessels, saying they believe that “the act of war does not serve US interests.”
Any such attack could trigger “unpredictable responses” and lead to “unprecedented situations” beyond US control, the Venezuelan envoy quoted experts as saying.
“Warmongering Generals & advisers in Washington are playing with fire in a dangerous situation and exploiting Venezuelan extremists. They are seeking a war with Iran in the Middle East contrary to US interest. They have attempted this many times in the past,” Moncada wrote.
He further emphasized that Trump’s threats will not weaken Maduro but rather strengthen him and unify most of the people against aggression.
“In their long experience in defending the US, they do not understand how could attacking legal trade between two countries that do not pose a national threat serve their own interests. Venezuelans, meanwhile, want no war either, but dialogue,” he wrote.
“Trump’s policy thus far has been a failure and, even with the pandemic, it seems to have no chance of success in the near future. Avoiding a war resulting from the wrong advice of adventurers in Washington and Venezuela is the best option for the US,” Moncada said.
Also on Sunday, the Iranian Embassy in Caracas posted a video of the tanker arriving in Venezuelan waters. “The first Iranian tanker reached the Venezuelan coasts. Grateful to the Bolivarian Armed Forces for escorting them,” it tweeted.
Relations between Caracas and Tehran have become close since former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez took power in 1999.
AFP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.