Iran says will respond to any trouble to its oil tankers

May 20, 2020 - 21:21

TEHRAN - Defense Minister Amir Hatami said on Wednesday that Iran will respond firmly to any “annoyance” to its oil tankers which are carrying gasoline for Venezuela.

“Our policies are clear and we have announced that we will not tolerate any kind of annoyance,” Hatami told reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting.

He added, “Annoyance against fuel tankers runs contrary to international law. The international organizations and countries who are sensitive about security in waterways must respond to this issue.”

He also noted that annoyance is a kind of “piracy”.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warning the U.S. about sending troops to the Caribbean Sea with the aim of interfering with the transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela.

Zarif has stressed that the U.S. must give up bullying on the world stage and respect the rule of international law, especially free shipping in the high seas.
Zarif warned that any move against the Iranian tankers will be “illegal”, “dangerous”, “provocative”, “instance of piracy” and a “great danger to international peace and security”.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi also told the Swiss ambassador, whose country represents U.S. interests in Iran, that any potential threat to the Islamic Republic’s tankers would be met with a "quick and decisive response" and that “the United States government will be responsible for its consequences”.

Also, government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Monday warned that Iran is ready to respond to any act of piracy against its tankers by the United States. 

“We want to ensure the full security of these commercial shipments from any act of piracy by the U.S. government, which has a long record in this regard,” Rabiei told a press conference.

He said no country is compelled to adhere to the U.S.’s unilateral sanctions on other countries and “we are committed to do our expected commercial interactions with Venezuela.”

“The gasoline-carrying tankers were sent to Venezuela due to a request by the Venezuelan government,” the spokesman explained.

Rabiei said Iran expects the international community to ensure the security of commercial waterways, condemning the U.S. for violating maritime laws.

An unnamed official with the U.S. administration that has brought both Iran and Venezuela under sanctions told Reuters last Thursday that the shipment was “unwelcome,” claiming “we’re looking at measures that can be taken.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has called the threat “shameless” and said the U.S. under President Donald Trump was disrupting the world order, ignoring the standing norms, and waging anarchy.

Mousavi said the shipments face no legal prohibitions. 

He said the development is completely legitimate as opposed to maritime piracy “which is [something that is] mastered by the U.S.”

NA/PA

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