The Iranian-flagged fuel tanker ‘Fortune’ is seen after it was docked at the El Palito refinery in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo state, Venezuela, on May 26, 2020.
Anadolu Agency through Getty Images
WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed new sanctions on five Iranian ship captains who delivered gasoline to Venezuela, whose burgeoning oil industry has collapsed.
The Iranian shipping sector is a frequent target of the Trump administration for its financial support for the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Earlier this week, five Iranian oil tankers brought approximately 1.5 million barrels to the gas-starved country, which was once a leading fuel exporter. The move is likely to anger Washington as the two OPEC nations sidestep US sanctions.
“The Treasury Department will target anyone who supports Iranian attempts to evade United States sanctions and who allows for its destabilizing behavior around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote in a statement. “The Iranian regime’s support for the authoritarian and corrupt regime in Venezuela is unacceptable, and the administration will continue to use its authorities to disrupt it.”
The appointed work of the five Iranian captains for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and National Iranian Tanker Co. and, over the past month, they have captained ships identified as blocked property.
“Seafarers doing business with Iran and Venezuela will face the consequences of the United States of America,” Mike Pompeo, the nation’s top diplomat, told the State Department on Wednesday. “The Maduro regime has mismanaged Venezuela’s abundant natural resources to the point that it must import gasoline from Iran, and Maduro’s claims of equitable and fair distribution of gasoline do not mislead anyone,” he added.
Gasoline is scarce in Venezuela due to an almost complete collapse of the nation’s OPEC refining network of 1.3 million barrels per day. Oil, the country’s largest export, has plummeted more than 60% since Maduro succeeded dictator Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela in 2013.