On June 24th, the United States sanctioned five Iranian ship captains who delivered oil to Venezuela, as Washington ratcheted up pressure against President Nicolas Maduro, whose government it considers illegitimate.
Speaking at a press conference at the State Department, Pompeo said the ships delivered around 1.5 million barrels of Iranian gasoline and related components, and warned any mariners against doing business with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, had been placed on the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) blacklist.
“Mariners who do business with Iran and Venezuela will face consequences from the United States of America,” Mike Pompeo said.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded on Twitter, calling the move “more proof of the hatred by (US President Donald) Trump’s hawks against Venezuela.”
“As a result of today’s sanctions, these captains’ assets will be blocked. Their careers and prospects will suffer from this designation,” Pompeo said in a statement later. “Mariners who are considering work with Iran and Venezuela should understand that aiding these oppressive regimes is simply not worth the risk,” he said.
“The rogue regimes in Caracas and Tehran are unified by their penchant for repressing their people, corruption, self-enrichment, and gross mismanagement of their people’s wealth,” Mike Pompeo added.
The move comes as Venezuela accused the United States Wednesday of “an act of provocation” after a US warship steamed close to the South American country’s territorial waters the day before.
The vessel sailed in an area that “the illegitimate Maduro regime falsely claims to have control over,” the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) said in a statement.
Iran has since April sent five tankers totalling about 1.5 million barrels to the leftist government of fuel-starved Venezuela, though the shipments have done little to alleviate hours-long lines at gas stations.