News ID: 272883
Published: 0211 GMT August 14, 2020

Iran denies report on US seizure of Iranian tankers

Iran denies report on US seizure of Iranian tankers
An Iranian oil tanker is docked at the El Palito refinery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

Iran’s Ambassador to Venezuela Hojjat Soltani rejected as “lie” a media report that the US has seized four Iranian tankers transporting fuel to Venezuela.

The Iranian diplomat made the comments after The Wall Street Journal, citing US officials, claimed on Thursday that the US government has seized vessels carrying Iranian fuel to Venezuela, according to IRNA. 

The four vessels, called Luna, Pandi, Bering and Bella, were seized on the high seas in recent days and are now en route to Houston, The Wall Street Journal said, citing the officials, adding that senior administration officials are expected to meet the tankers at an event scheduled to mark the docking.

The report, citing one official, said the vessels had been taken over without the use of military force, but did not provide any details.

According to Reuters, US prosecutors filed a lawsuit last month to seize the gasoline aboard four tankers that Iran is trying to ship to Venezuela, the latest attempt by the Trump administration to increase economic pressure on the two US foes.

In a post on his Twitter account, Soltani denied the report, describing it as “another lie and psychological warfare from the US imperialism’s propaganda machine.”

“The terrorist #Trump cannot compensate for his humiliation and defeat by Iran using false propaganda.”

“Neither are the vessels Iranian, nor have their owners or flags anything to do with Iran,” the ambassador underlined.

An unnamed Iranian official also told IRNA that no Iranian ships or gasoline cargoes have been seized.

"Iran, as it has repeatedly stated, will not tolerate any such hostile actions ... and has not allowed any country to take such measures," the unnamed official said.

The Wall Street Journal’s report came months after Iran sent five tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela despite the US warnings.

The tankers – Fortune, Forest, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel – were sent to Venezuela in May and June to help revive oil refineries in the South American country, which is suffering from a severe fuel shortage caused by US sanctions.

Iran’s fuel shipments drew the ire of the US, which has imposed draconian sanctions on Iran and Venezuela with the aim of crippling their oil sectors.




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