The South American country has previously deployed the military to shield the friendly vessels from such attacks. Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Samuel Moncada, sounded the alarm over what he described as Washington’s hostile intentions earlier on Saturday, asking the Security Council to put an end to US “warmongering and criminal policies.”
Iranian tankers ferrying gasoline to Venezuela’s ports are facing “the threat of imminent use of military force by the United States,” he later told his Twitter followers, adding that this would amount to “an act of war” against his country.
Today we alerted the UN Security Council and Secretary General Antonio Guterres of the threat of imminent use of military force by the United States against Iranian vessels carrying Venezuelan-directed gasoline. An act of war under international law.
See here: pic.twitter.com/jyp8kqQZsQ
— Samuel Moncada (@SMoncada_eng) May 22, 2020
“The armed attack on tankers, exercising free trade and navigation between sovereign nations, is a crime of aggression. A naval blockade is aggravated by the fact that it aims to deprive an entire population of its vital means of subsistence. It is a crime of extermination!”
Several days prior to Moncada’s address, the White House was considering measures in response to Iran’s fuel shipments, Reuters quoted a senior Trump administration official as saying last week. They noted that the delivery would be “unwelcome” for the US and the region.
Moncada’s letter suggested that a naval task force comprised of US, British, French and Dutch warships are “surrounding the coasts” of Venezuela “with a hostile and aggressive attitude.”
The deployment has been disguised as a counter-narcotics mission, but its true objective is to illegally impose a naval blockade on Venezuela, Moncada argued.
Previously, Venezuelan armed forces dispatched combat ships and aircraft to safeguard the Iranian tankers once they entered the country’s exclusive economic zone. The threat of the blockade, be it actual or perceived, seems to be another peril facing a South American nation already crippled by the economic downturn.
Even though Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, it had to declare an “energy emergency” in February on the back of sweeping US sanctions.