In a seeming repeat of the Trump admin attempt to impose a full naval blockade on Venezuela to prevent fuel and oil imports and exports, especially involving Iranian tankers, the US military is said to be actively monitoring two Iranian naval vessels which are believed headed toward Venezuela.
Washington has reportedly warned the Maduro government against receiving the warships, which likely have elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force members aboard. The two “rogue states” (as the US sees them) have become increasingly close especially under the prior four Trump years as they cooperated in circumventing US sanctions, and have grown militarily more cooperative.
Days ago Politico was the first to report on their movements – but whether they are intent on entering Venezuelan waters is still largely subject of speculation. “An Iranian frigate and the Makran, a former oil tanker that was converted to a floating forward staging base, have been heading south along the east coast of Africa, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject,” the report said.
Politico continued: “Senior officials in President Nicolás Maduro’s government in Caracas have been advised that welcoming the Iranian warships would be a mistake, according to a person familiar with the discussions. But it’s not clear whether Maduro has heeded that warning: At one point on Thursday, U.S. military officials understood the ships had turned around, but as of Friday morning they were still steaming south, one of the people said.”
On Monday Iran’s foreign ministry responded to the reports, asserting the country’s right to freely navigate international waters, but stopped short of confirming or denying any operation involving Venezuela. “Iran has constant presence in international waters, is entitled to this right on the basis of international law, and can be present in international waters. No country can violate such a right”, an Iranian spokesman said. The spokesman then warned:
“I warn that nobody should make a miscalculation. Those who live in glass houses must be cautious.”
#Iran has warned the US against “any miscalculations” after reports emerged that the US was monitoring two Iranian warships said to be en route to Venezuela.
“Those in glass houses should be careful,” Foreign Ministry spox Khatibzadeh said today.https://t.co/VdlKfKwI4s
— Kian Sharifi (@KianSharifi) May 31, 2021
Last year on multiple occasions Venezuela’s military escorted Iranian fuel tankers through its coastal waters after Trump vowed to send a military blockade to the Caribbean.
Despite the threats, multiple tankers made it to the Venezuelan coast; however in some other instances US authorities were able to seize Iranian fuel on the high seas much earlier before ships made it near South America’s coast.