The fourth of five Iranian oil tankers carrying gasoline and other similar products to Venezuela to help ease fuel shortages entered the country's waters on Thursday in defiance of US sanctions on both nations’ oil exports.
The fourth ship Faxon was escorted by the Venezuelan military through its exclusive economic zone without encountering any US interference, the Venezuelan navy said on Twitter.
The first oil vessel Fortune had officially entered Venezuela's Exclusive Economic Zone on Saturday. The third tanker, the Petunia, had entered the El Palito refinery in Puerto Cabello in northern Carabobo state on Thursday.
On May 20, five Iranian super-tankers carrying gasoline and other similar products, estimated to be worth $45.5 million, sailed towards Venezuela, which has been facing acute shortages of gasoline at its refineries.
The fuel shipments were dispatched on the request of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
-Oil in exchange for gold
According to media reports, Tehran will receive at least nine tons of gold in exchange for gasoline supplies to Venezuela.
The Latin American country is said to hold some 70 tons of gold, which has become a valuable asset for the country battling its economic woes.
The networking between Tehran and Caracas, however, has not gone down well with Washington, which reportedly deployed a fleet of warships in the Caribbean waters.
A senior official in Washington said in statements that the US was considering measures in response to Iran’s fuel shipment to Venezuela.
Iran, for its part, warned that any "pirate-like" action by the US Navy against the Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela would trigger a “harsh response”, Iran’s Nour News Agency reported.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry also warned the US against what Tehran termed "foolish action" against Iranian oil tankers and stressed there are no legal restrictions to any trade between Iran and Venezuela.
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General, describing the US’ warnings as "illegal, dangerous and provocative threats" and said any action taken would be deemed "piracy" and a "great threat" to international peace and security.
By Sibel Morrow