The United States has reportedly issued threats to Venezuela and Cuba against letting in two Iranian Navy ships sailing across the Atlantic, apparently heading to South American shores with an unknown cargo.
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Citing an unnamed senior official with the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, Politico claimed the ships are believed to be carrying weapons from Iran to Venezuela under a deal signed between the two countries during the administration of former President Donald Trump.
“The delivery of such weapons would be a provocative act and understood as a threat to our partners in the Western Hemisphere,” the official said in a statement to Politico. “We would reserve the right to take appropriate measures in coordination with our partners to deter the transit or delivery of such weapons.”
The vessels are said to have already traveled a significant distance across the Atlantic Ocean, completing more than half the journey from Iran to Venezuela, marking the first time the Iranian navy has rounded Cape Town, South Africa, to get far into the Atlantic.
During his tenure, Trump withdrew U.S. recognition of Nicolas Maduro as Venezuelan president and pulled Washington out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. In addition, under Trump, Washington tightened its economic sanctions on both the Iranian and Venezuelan nations.
“The sale of the Iranian weapons happened one year ago under the previous [U.S.] administration and like many situations related to Iran under the previous administration — including the breakout of Iran’s nuclear program following the Trump administration’s reckless withdrawal from the [Iran nuclear deal] — we are working to resolve it through diplomacy,” the U.S. official said.
On Tuesday, the Iranian administration reacted to the reports in U.S. media about Iran shipping weapons to South America, denouncing the monitoring as interference in Iran’s legal trade with other countries. Tehran, however, did not comment on the cargo of the ships.
“Regardless of the cargo of the ships, there is no ban on Iran’s sale of weapons, as confirmed by Resolution 2231,” adopted in 2015 by the UN Security Council to endorse the Iran deal that the US abandoned less than two years later, said Ali Rabiei, the administration’s spokesman. “America has long tried to get the resolution violated [by others], but to no avail.”
“Iran reserves the right to enjoy normal trade ties in the framework of international law and regulations, and considers any interference and monitoring of these relations as illegal and insulting, and strongly condemns it,” Rabiei told reporters at a weekly news conference.