The Trump administration’s special representative for Iran and Venezuela is warning that if Iran sends missiles to Venezuela, the U.S. will intercede to stop the shipment, and if that fails, the missiles will be “dealt with.”
Elliott Abrams, speaking at a webinar hosted by George Mason University’s National Security Institute, stated, “I’ve made one very concrete statement about this: We will not accept, we will not tolerate, the placement in Venezuela of Iranian missiles that can reach the United States.”
“We will not accept it, and if they try to do it, at least in this administration, we will try to interdict it, and if they arrive in Venezuela, they will be dealt with in Venezuela,” he continued. “It is not acceptable to have Iranian missiles in Venezuela that can reach the United States.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated on September 21:
Today, I will take the first action under this new executive order by sanctioning the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, and Iran’s Defense Industries Organization and its director. We’re also sanctioning the previous president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. For nearly two years, corrupt officials in Tehran have worked with the illegitimate regime in Venezuela to flout the U.N. arms embargo. Our actions today are warning that should be heard worldwide. No matter who you are, if you violate the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions.
Three days after Pompeo made his remarks, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) echoed of the Iranian regime:
Anything they can do to defy the United States is something they are going to be for. I think more concerning is if you were to begin to see weapon sales, which I think is a possibility if in October the conventional weapons ban is lifted against Iran. Now you can see them beginning to share weaponry with the Venezuelan military, which is problematic, because in addition to them there are all sorts of criminal elements that control large swaths of Venezuela, the Farc, the ELN, other criminal groups, and it would be a catastrophic outcome to see those groups wind up in possession of advanced weaponry that they can use to target the Colombians, U.S. anti-drug efforts, anti cocaine efforts in that region and so forth.
Adm. Craig Faller, who oversees U.S. military operations in the region as head of U.S. Southern Command, recently added, “We see growing Iranian influence in [Venezuela] to include the Quds force … It’s not just oil shipments. It’s arms shipments as well. We have been tracking that. We saw an uptick in that this year. We’re watching the rate of change very carefully to see if it connects to any other Iranian malfeasance around the globe.”
Abrams stated, “We’re not going to tolerate it, and I think that making that statement flatly and clearly will serve as an adequate deterrent,” adding, “Venezuela policy has been remarkably bipartisan in the last four years. When Juan Guaidó was invited to the State of Union … he stood up in the balcony, everybody rose and applauded, and right behind [Trump] was Nancy Pelosi doing it, so it’s been a bipartisan policy.”