BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:00 P.M.) – The Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, tweeted on Friday that the U.S. military is threatening the five Iranian tankers that are en route to the Bolivarian Republic.
Moncada stated in his tweet that he had notified the U.N. Security Council and its Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the “threat of imminent use of military force by the United States against Iranian vessels carrying Venezuelan-directed gasoline”.
The Venezuelan envoy then said in another tweet that an “armed attack on tankers, exercising free trade and navigation between sovereign nations, is a crime of aggression”.
Moncada specified that “a naval blockade is aggravated by the fact that it aims to deprive an entire population of its vital means of subsistence” and that “it is a crime of extermination”.
These remarks by Moncada come just a few days after the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed U.S. officials, said that the Trump administration is considering new sanctions and “other legal steps to disrupt Iranian oil exports to Venezuela”, in response to what Washington sees as Tehran’s attempts “to make inroads into Latin America”.
Iran responded to these alleged threats by sending several warnings to Washington via social media and the Swiss Ambassador.
“Should the Americans take any measure against our vessels’ free and legal movement around, they would face our decisive response”, the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Mousavi told reporters in Tehran on Sunday.
He said that if the US “does not like a country, this does not give it any grounds to prevent legal trade among countries, [take them under] sanctions, and cause trouble for them”.
Mousavi spoke after Tehran summoned the Swiss ambassador representing Washington’s interests in the Islamic Republic to lodge a protest against the US Navy’s alleged plans to intercept Iranian tankers, which were not officially confirmed by either the White House or the Pentagon.
Speaking to the ambassador, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi described US efforts to resort to bullying in order to hamper international trade as a serious human rights abuse and a clear “act of piracy”.
However, according to Fox News correspondent Lucas Tomilson, the Pentagon has no plans to confront the Iranian vessels.
Earlier, Iran rejected what it described as “baseless” allegations by US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams who asserted that Tehran is supplying Caracas with equipment needed to restart the South American country’s refineries in exchange for gold from Venezuelan reserves.
Tehran also blamed Washington for trying to destroy the Venezuelan economy and topple Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, suggesting that Iran-related allegations were made only to serve as a pretext for new sanctions against both countries.