By staff and agency

U.S. seeks to seize four Iranian tankers sailing towards Venezuela

July 3, 2020 - 18:24

U.S. prosecutors have filed a lawsuit to seize four tankers sailing towards Venezuela with gasoline supplied by Iran.

The lawsuit, filed late on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was followed on Thursday by a warrant issued by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg for the seizure of the more than 1.1 million barrels of gasoline in the four vessels, Reuters reported.

Legal sources said the gasoline could likely only be seized by U.S. authorities if the tankers enter U.S. territorial waters.

In the civil-forfeiture complaint, U.S. federal prosecutors aim to stop delivery of Iranian gasoline aboard the Liberia-flagged Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna, according to the lawsuit, first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Boasberg issued the warrant for the seizure of the gasoline in the tankers based on probable cause that the fuel is forfeitable, the Justice Department said.

The lawsuit also aims to stop the flow of revenues from oil sales to Iran.

Five Iranian oil tankers by the names of Petunia, Forest, Faxon, Clavel, and Fortune carried fuel to Venezuela despite the United States’ sanctions. The last of them entered Venezuelan waters on June 1.

The tankers carried 1,520,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel fuel to Venezuela. There was also a team of Iranian engineers and specialists from the oil industry on board heading for the country.

Venezuela’s envoy to the UN Jorge Valero has said that Iran and Venezuela will continue fighting U.S. President Donald Trump’s hostile policies.

“The people of Iran and Venezuela are two brotherly nations and will continue their war against Trump’s hostile policies,” ISNA quoted him as saying on June 9 in an interview with Al Mayadeen TV channel.

NA/PA

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