The U.S. is attempting to seize four Iranian oil tankers sailing toward Venezuela, the latest action in part of a broader operation to pressure Tehran and Caracas to meet U.S. demands, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Justice Department issued a warrant Thursday to seize the cargoes of the tankers Bella, Bering, Pandi, and Luna, alleging the shipments involve parties affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the U.S. has designated a "foreign terrorist organization."
"Profits from petroleum sales support the IRGC's full range of nefarious activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, support for terrorism, and a variety of human rights abuses, at home and abroad," the Justice Department said in a statement.
One of the companies involved in the shipment was previously linked to the Revolutionary Guard and attempts to evade U.S. sanctions, according to prosecutors. The U.S. in its civil-forfeiture complaint said Iranian businessman Mahmoud Madanipour used firms based in the United Arab Emirates to handle the oil sales and suggested Tehran still has financial ties in Oman, UAE, Turkey, Italy, and Germany.
Venezuela has badly needed fuel supplies to alleviate shortages that have led to long gas lines.
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