BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:30 P.M.) – The Wall Street Journal quoted U.S. officials as saying that the American government for the first time seized ships it said were transporting Iranian fuel in violation of the sanctions imposed by the administration of President Donald Trump.
Last month, U.S. prosecutors filed a lawsuit over the seizure of 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.
The Wall Street Journal, citing officials, said the four ships, the Luna, Pandy, Bering and Bella, have been stopped on the high seas in recent days and are now on their way to Houston.
Iran had sent six oil tankers to Venezuela, expressing its willingness to continue its oil shipments to the Latin American country, if Caracas requested more.
A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said: “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed that Tehran is ready to continue its oil shipments to Venezuela if Caracas requests more.”
The Iranian authorities also announced that their institutions would export oil derivatives to several countries in Asia and Africa, including Arab and Gulf countries.