Five tankers carrying an estimated $45.5 million worth of oil are currently sailing from Iran to Venezuela as part of a trade deal between the two countries.
Both Iran and Venezuela have been sanctioned by the United States and are in the middle of economic and political crises, the Associated Press reports. As President Donald Trump continues his tough approach towards both countries, Iran and Venezuela have defied international law and American sanctions by opening up trade with each other.
The Trump administration placed an economic embargo on Venezuela in August 2019, which froze financial assets and targeted specific individuals, actions that were designed in part to curb the country’s oil production. Economic problems and government corruption has led to food shortages and a political crisis as the United States and other countries back groups opposed to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Iran has also been sanctioned due to its role in international terrorism and its nuclear program. Earlier this year, the United States imposed a number of sanctions after Iran fired missiles at American bases in Iraq. (RELATED: Trump Offers Iran A Chance For Peace After Country Launches Missiles At US Bases In Iraq)
A senior official in the Trump administration hinted Thursday that the United States was considering retaliation against Iran, possibly by intercepting the oil tankers, Reuters reports. In response, Iran’s state-backed news agency Nour said in a report Saturday that the United States was acting “just like pirates.”
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei denied knowing anything about the tankers during a broadcast on state media, but warned the United States against retaliation. “Venezuela and Iran are both independent states that have had and will continue to have trade relations with each other,” he said.