US Sanctions Iranian Ship Captains For Delivering Oil To Venezuela

Mangel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS

Alec Schemmel Contributor
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The State Department has sanctioned five Iranian ship captains for delivering 1.5 million barrels of gasoline and related components to Venezuela.

The individuals will be added to the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons maintained by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, pursuant to updates of Executive Order 13599 made after the U.S. dropped out of the Iran nuclear deal. As a result, their assets will also be blocked and “their careers and prospects will suffer from this designation,” said the State Department in a statement released Wednesday.

Oil is Venezuela’s largest export but due to the country’s breakdown of their refining network ever since Nicolás Maduro succeeded Hugo Chavez as Venezuela’s president in 2013, gasoline has become scarce there and oil production has plummeted more than 60%, according to CNBC.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called the sanctions “criminal,” and said that the actions were “more evidence of the hatred of Trump’s hawks against ALL Venezuelans regardless of their political positions,” in a statement posted to Twitter.

The State Department believes Maduro’s claims of equal and fair gasoline distribution are untrue and that “the only solution to Venezuela’s problems is a democratic transition that restores freedom and prosperity.”

“Iran’s continued support to Venezuela is yet another instance of Iran wasting its people’s resources on ill-conceived foreign adventurism that prolongs suffering abroad,” the State Department said. (RELATED: Here Are The Sanctions The US Has Imposed On Iran Following Its Missile Attack)