Federal prosecutors in the United States have appealed for seizure of the four Iranian ships that are supplying petrol to Venezuela. A civil-forfeiture appeal was filed before a federal court in the US capital of Washington D.C. on Wednesday, July 2. The appeal to seize the ships is against an Iranian expatriate businessman in the United Kingdom, with alleged ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for having arranged the shipment.
The IRGC, the official paramilitary forces in Iran, has been named as a “terror” organization by the US, and prosecutors allege that the proceeds of the shipments will go into funding the organization.
The four Iranian ships named in the current forfeiture case are Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna, which US prosecutors allege are carrying over 1.1 million barrels of fuel to Venezuela. One of them, Pandi, has already left for the Pacific from the Persian Gulf.
In May, Iran delivered a flotilla of four cargo ships carrying around 1.2 million barrels of petrol to Venezuela, which was suffering from severe shortages due to US sanctions. Both Iran and Venezuela are under unilateral sanctions regime by the US, pressuring other nations to abide by it. The economic warfare on Venezuela has crippled its production capabilities with the seizure of its foreign assets and capital.
Since the fuel shipments, Iran also sent a flotilla carrying tonnes of food supplies to open a supermarket in Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in June. Iran also, at the time, promised to keep up a steady supply of fuel and food shipments into Venezuela.
The increasing cooperation and trade between Iran and Venezuela has angered the US. Recently it has been putting pressure on ship owners and companies, and even countries, to prevent further shipments from Iran to Venezuela. On Thursday alone, two private ship owners have confiscated crude oil and petrol shipments suspected of being for Venezuela.