The Trump administration has reportedly “confiscated cargo” on four oil tankers that were en route to Venezuela carrying Iranian oil.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the move comes as the administration looks to up its “campaign of maximum pressure” against the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
“Last month U.S. federal prosecutors filed suit to seize the four tankers of gasoline that Iran was sending to Venezuela, the latest move in the administration’s effort to stifle flows of goods and money helping to keep two of its top foes in power,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “One official said the vessels had been taken over without the use of military force but didn’t provide any details. Last year the U.S. tried unsuccessfully to use judicial cooperation agreements to take control of an Iranian oil vessel that had been detained in the British territory of Gibraltar.”
One of the goals reportedly sought by the administration with this action is to deter shipping companies and other organizations from doing business with Iran and Venezuela.
The four vessels, which are now en route to Houston, were part of a convoy of nine oil tankers, including five belonging to Iran, which were being escorted by an Iranian naval vessel. The four seized oil tankers, all privately owned, broke away from the convoy after their owners were contacted by the U.S. federal government.
“The U.S. government’s lawsuit alleges that an Iranian businessman affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s elite military unit designated by the U.S. as a terror group, arranged the fuel deliveries through a network of shell companies to avoid detection and evade U.S. sanctions,” The Wall Street Journal added. “The action is the latest in a series of moves the U.S. has taken against Iran and its ally Venezuela as part of a broad operation to pressure the governments in Tehran and Caracas to meet U.S. demands.”
Pressure has also mounted against the Islamic regime from its own citizens over the poor state of Iran’s economy, Iran shooting down an airliner earlier this year and lying about it, and Iran allegedly killing protesters.
Iran also faces problems over how it has managed the coronavirus pandemic as the nation has been accused of lying about how bad the outbreak is. Just this week, Iran shut down a newspaper that published an alleged interview with a government doctor who said that Iran’s numbers were “engineered” for political reasons.
“The Jahan-e Sanat newspaper quoted Mohammadreza Mahboubfar, an epidemiologist on Iran’s national coronavirus task force, as saying the country’s virus figures ‘have certainly been engineered since the start of the outbreak,’” Bloomberg News reported. “‘I believe the numbers announced by the Health Ministry are 1/20th of the reality’ of Iranians infected and dead, he said, according to the newspaper’s website jahanesanat.ir.”
“Iran currently reports that the country has had 329,000 cases and 18,616 deaths,” The Daily Wire reported. “If the numbers that Mahboubfar alleges are true, that means that Iran has had over 6.5 million cases and more than 370,000 deaths — which is more than double the number of deaths that the United States has reported.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.