Rouhani slams US interference in Iran's trade with other countries
President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at the United States for interfering in Iran’s normal trade with other countries as the country has sent several tankers carrying fuel to the gasoline-thirsty Venezuela.
“The Americans are seeking to interfere even in normal trade between Iran and a friendly country (Venezuela) in the shipment of an oil product, while it has nothing to do with them and (such interference) does not conform to any law,” Rouhani told a cabinet session on Wednesday.
Without strong unity in Iran, a similar incident like the 2019 seizure of Iran’s oil tanker in Gibraltar could have taken place in the Caribbean Sea, Rouhani said.
He also noted that the strong unity among the Iranian branches of power and the Armed Forces restrained the US from taking an act of aggression against Iran.
Iran has sent a flotilla of five tankers to Venezuela carrying 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and refining components.
The third cargo of the Iranian tanker flotilla, Petunia, on Tuesday reached Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone as the previous two were discharging at state-run PDVSA’s ports, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.
The Iran-flagged tanker Petunia crossed the Caribbean Sea earlier on Tuesday, following the same route as vessels Fortune and Forest. The first ship, Fortune, arrived on Monday at a port serving PDVSA’s El Palito refinery.
The two other tankers – "Faxon" and "Clavel" – are expected in the next two days.
The tankers "bring fuel, additives and spare parts, among other equipment, to increase our capacity for refining and oil production," Venezuela’s Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami said on Monday.
US sanctions have targeted Venezuelan oil exports, starving Caracas of vital income.
Venezuela has been in recession for six years, its economy in shambles and its citizens struggling with shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicines.
Venezuela is almost entirely dependent on its oil revenues but its production has fallen to roughly a quarter of its 2008 level.
The Venezuelan government blames that on US sanctions, including against state oil company PDVSA.
President Nicolas Maduro said he would announce in the coming days a “plan” for fuel distribution. Gasoline is so heavily subsidized that it is essentially free, but shortages have forced Venezuelans to either wait in days-long queues or pay steep prices on the black market.
“Now we will be able to go in phases toward a new normal in terms of gasoline supply,” Maduro said in a state television address.
Iran’s move has angered Washington which has sanctioned both OPEC nations. A US official said earlier this month that President Donald Trump’s administration was considering responses to the shipment, prompting the Iranian government to warn Washington against military action.
Source: Iran Daily