Iran claims fuel shipment to Venezuela perfectly legal

In today's Iran media roundup, Tehran condemned possible US interference with Iranian shipments of fuel to Venezuela.

al-monitor Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi gives a press conference in the capital Tehran, Iran, May 28, 2019.  Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images.

May 18, 2020

Iran is currently in a standoff with the United States regarding shipment of fuel to Venezuela, an issue has the potential to ignite tensions between the two countries. US officials have said they will consider taking measures to prevent Iran from doing so. Both Iran and Venezuela are under US sanctions.

Spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry Abbas Mousavi said today, “Free trade between independent countries is a legal act. What is illegal is robbery in the sea, which the US is the leader of.” He continued, “[President Donald] Trump’s America is undoing world order and ignoring norms and is seeking world anarchy.” He added that what US officials said about the Iranian ship carrying fuel to Venezuela is “shameless and their actions will be met with our response.” 

Mousavi said that Iran has issued warnings about possible US actions against the shipment of fuel to Venezuela through the Swiss embassy, which acts as an intermediary between the United States and Iran as well as the United Nations. 

Spokesman for the President Hassan Rouhani administration Ali Rabiei also spoke up, saying, “No country is required to follow unilateral US sanctions and we have a responsibility to fulfill our commitments to Venezuela and this was at their request.”

Rabiei also talked about the country’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. He said today that Iran has entered the “containment” phase of dealing with the virus. Speaking live in the presence of reporters, Rabiei said, “We have passed through the phase of managing and controlling the coronavirus illness and have entered the containment phase.” Rabiei said the next major goal for the Rouhani administration is to keep the economy “on its legs.”   

However, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour, speaking via teleconference, told reporters that the country's coronavirus numbers are increasing. Jahanpour said that in the last 24 hours there have been 2,294 new confirmed cases, nearly triple Iran's lowest number on May 2. Iran had lifted many restrictions in recent weeks and its numbers are climbing back up. Iran’s total confirmed coronavirus cases number 122,492 and total deaths from the virus now stand at 7,058. In the last 24 hours, 69 Iranians have died.

The country's efforts to fight the pandemic have included mass shut downs and testing. In mid-April the country began to reopen, allowing traffic to resume from province to province and allowing stores to reopen. Authorities conducted what they called mass screening, primarily via phone calls to residents. Jahanpour said that Iran has conducted over 700,000 tests. 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also made a rare televised addressed to students today. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Khamenei had addressed government officials or crowds only via television. Speaking to university students, Khamenei said that the United States will be expelled from Iraq and Syria and that America has lost its “attraction” in the world. 

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