Iran rejects claims about seizure of its tankers by U.S.

August 14, 2020 - 15:13

TEHRAN - Iranian Ambassador to Venezuela Hojat Soltani has rejected claims that the United States has seized Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.

“Another lie and psychological warfare by the United States’ imperialism propaganda machine. The tankers are neither Iranians, nor their owners or flags have anything to do with Iran. The terrorist Trump cannot make up for his humiliation and defeat towards the great Iranian nation through fake propaganda,” ambassador tweeted on Friday.

U.S. officials claimed on Thursday that the Trump administration has seized the cargo of four tankers which was targeting for transporting Iranian fuel to Venezuela, The Associated Press reported.

A senior U.S. official told AP that no military force was used in the seizures and that the ships weren’t physically confiscated. Rather, U.S. officials threatened ship owners, insurers and captains with sanction to force them to hand over their cargo, which now becomes U.S. property, the official said.

An informed Iranian source told Nour News that no Iranian tanker has been seized.

“As it has been announced for several times, the Islamic Republic of Iran will respond to any hostile action that limits its legal rights, and so far has not permitted any country to take such actions,” the source said.

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

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was followed 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.

NA/PA

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