BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:10 P.M.) – The U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday that the United States had seized and confiscated four Iranian fuel shipments en route to Venezuela, describing it as the largest U.S. seizure of Iranian fuel ever.
The Department of Justice said it had implemented an order issued by a U.S. court in the District of Columbia to confiscate the shipments.
They said that, as reported by Reuters, with the help of foreign partners, the confiscated shipments are now under U.S. control.
It stated that the total shipments amounted to about 1.116 million barrels of petroleum products.
An Iranian official responded to what was reported by the Wall Street Journal regarding the U.S. detention of Iranian tankers while they were heading to Venezuela, stating that these claims were not true.
The Iranian official, whose name was not revealed by the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), said that no Iranian tanker or cargo has been seized.
He added, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has announced several times that it will respond to any hostile steps aimed at restricting its legitimate and legal rights and has not allowed any country to undertake such acts.”
As for the Iranian ambassador to Venezuela, Hajj Soltani, he confirmed in a tweet that the detained ships are not Iranian and do not carry Iran’s flag.
The newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying that for the first time, the U.S. government had seized ships that it said were transporting Iranian fuel in violation of the sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration.
US.. prosecutors filed a lawsuit last month to confiscate the gasoline carried by four tankers that Iran is trying to ship to Venezuela, in the latest attempt by the Trump administration to increase economic pressure on the two countries, according to Reuters.
The lawsuit aims to stem the flow of oil sales revenue to Iran, which Washington has imposed sanctions over its nuclear program, ballistic missiles and influence across the Middle East. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The Wall Street Journal, quoting officials, said that the four ships, Luna, Pandey, Bering and Bella, had been stopped on the high seas in recent days and are now on their way to Houston.