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Sanctions Busters II: Another Iranian Fuel Shipment Arriving To Venezuela

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Sanctions Busters II: Another Iranian Fuel Shipment Arriving To Venezuela

The location of the Iranian vessels early this week. via Bloomberg

The first vessel of an Iranian flotilla of three ships bringing fuel supplies to Venezuela has entered the country’s territorial waters yesterday, demonstrating both nations’ continued determination to thwart US efforts to isolate and blockade the governments in Tehran and Caracas.

The Iranian tanker Forest entered Venezuela’s territorial waters early on Monday, according to tanker-tracker data collected by Bloomberg. Its destination is said to be El Palito port where a refinery is located. It’s the first of three Iranian vessels bringing hundreds of thousands of barrels of fuel to Venezuela.

Following years of unilateral punitive sanctions and an economic blockade by the US, national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA is suffering from severe shortages of parts and materials and has been unable to supply the country with gasoline.

While the US sanctions have restricted PDVSA’s ability to import fuel from international markets, they have also prompted the development of closer strategic ties between Iran and Venezuela. Almost all other international oil and shipping companies are now avoiding Venezuela for fear of the punitive – and illegal – measures adopted by the US government.

On Sunday, General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, a military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iran had received gold bullion from Venezuela by plane as payment for gasoline shipments, the Mehr news agency reported.

The two other tankers, the Fortune and Faxon, are due to arrive to Venezuela over the next few days. This is the second major gasoline shipment to Venezuela since the end of May, when a flotilla of five vessels brought nearly 1.5 million barrels of Iranian gasoline and fuel additives, as well as parts for local refineries.

Iran’s foreign ministry has said any attempt by the US to intercept the shipments will be met with “a swift and decisive response.”

In August, the US seized the cargoes of four vessels carrying 1.1 million barrels of Iranian gasoline ostensibly headed for Venezuela. The move was described as the US government’s “largest-ever seizure of fuel shipments from Iran” by the Department of Justice, which claimed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was responsible for the shipment.

PDVSA and Venezuela’s information ministry declined to comment to the media on the shipments. LINK

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