Iran warns U.S. against any act of piracy against its tankers

May 18, 2020 - 19:0

TEHRAN — Government spokesman Ali Rabiei has 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 said during a press conference on Monday.

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.

Vessel tracking data have reportedly suggested that an Iranian tanker that had loaded fuel at Bandar Abbas port in southern Iran at the end of March, sailed through the Suez Canal and entered the Atlantic on Wednesday.

An unnamed official with the U.S. administration that has brought both Iran and Venezuela under sanctions, however, told Reuters on 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.

Iranian vessels are bound for Venezuela carrying fuel shipments, Mousavi said, noting that the undertaking faces no legal prohibitions. The development is completely legitimate as opposed to maritime piracy “which is [something that is] mastered by the U.S.”

Last July, the UK seized an Iran-operated supertanker with U.S. instructions, attacking the vessel in the Strait of Gibraltar. Gibraltar’s government, however, released the vessel in August notwithstanding the U.S. bans.

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.