(Reuters) – Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in the Islamic Republic, over possible measures Washington could take against an Iranian fuel shipment to Venezuela, the Mehr news agency reported.
A senior official in U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration told Reuters on Thursday the United States was considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.
The oil sectors of Iran and Venezuela, members of OPEC, are both under U.S. sanctions. The Trump administration official declined to specify the measures being weighed but said options would be presented to Trump.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi passed on a message to the ambassador on Sunday warning against any U.S. threat against the Iranian tankers, according to a report on the foreign ministry website.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also wrote a letter to U.N. chief Antonio Guterres warning that any American measures against the fuel shipment would be dangerous, illegal and a form of piracy, according to the report on the foreign ministry website.
At least one tanker carrying fuel loaded at an Iranian port has set sail for Venezuela, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon on Wednesday, which could help ease an acute scarcity of gasoline in the South American country.
Venezuela is in desperate need of gasoline and other refined fuel products to keep the country functioning amid an economic collapse under socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela produces crude oil but its infrastructure has been crippled during the economic crisis.
(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Elaine Hardcastle)