Iranian tanker on way to Venezuela despite US pressure

The tanker passed through the Suez Canal on Wednesday.

al-monitor An Iranian oil tanker has passed through the Suez Canal and is apparently on the way to Venezuela despite US disapproval. Here, the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, sits anchored after the Supreme Court of the British territory of Gibraltar lifted its detention order against the ship, in the Strait of Gibraltar, Aug. 18, 2019.  Photo by REUTERS/Jon Nazca.

May 14, 2020

A fuel tanker from Iran is on its way to Venezuela amid US pressure on both countries.

The tanker Clavel flies an Iranian flag and finished passing through the Suez Canal on Wednesday. It loaded up in Iran in March and is a midsize ship, according to data obtained by Reuters.

Venezuela is oil-rich and a member of OPEC, but the South American country has experienced economic crisis for years. Lack of investment and proper maintenance caused its oil industry to collapse and the United States, opposed to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, sanctioned Venezuela’s state oil company last year.

The shipment is the latest example of close Iranian-Venzuelan ties despite US pressure. Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the international community to prevent flights from Iran's Mahan Air from reaching Venezuela. Pompeo said the company was providing support to Maduro. The United States does not recognize Maduro's government and supports an opposition movement.

Tensions between the United States and Venezuela heated up when Venezuelan authorities arrested three Americans trying to enter the country this month; Venezuelan and Iranian state media both reported the news as an incursion against the Venezuelan government. Pompeo denied the United States was part of any operation. The men had US military experience. 

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