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The first of five Iranian oil tankers heading to Venezuela to help ease fuel shortages in the economically stricken country has entered the country’s waters. Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s economy vice president and recently named oil minister tweeted: “The ships from the fraternal Islamic Republic of Iran are now in our exclusive economic zone.” As yet, they have encountered no US interference amid a diplomatic standoff.
Oil is scarce in Venezuela, which ironically has one of the largest natural hydrocarbon reserves in the world.
This is due to a near-complete breakdown of the OPEC nation’s 1.3 million barrel-per-day refining network due to US imposed sanctions.
Amid heightened tensions due to what Venezuelan authorities described as threats from the United States, the oil vessel Fortune officially entered Venezuela’s Exclusive Economic Zone on Saturday.
Shipping tracker TankerTracker, have said that the other four vessels are en route to Venezuelan waters.
Today Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted: “Iran and Venezuela have always supported each other in times of difficulty.
“Today, the first ship with gasoline arrives for our people.”
Another Iranian vessel, The Clavel, the last of the five ships, is estimated to be four days away from a Venezuelan port.
The oil tankers are carrying enough oil to supply the country for two to three weeks.
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As the Iranian shipments of fuel and other chemicals sanctioned by the US, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Washington not to interfere.
He said that the United States created “unacceptable conditions” for other nations.
He was quick to point out that Iran would “by no means” initiate conflict.
Mr Rouhani added: “If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face any problems caused by the Americans, they will face problems as well.
“We hope the Americans will not make a mistake.”
The US has employed naval units in the region, in what has been classified a drug interdiction mission.
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