US officials told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the US had seized four Iranian tankers on the high seas allegedly loaded with Iranian petroleum in violation of US sanctions.
The four oil shipping vessels are now en route to Houston, Texas, a major petroleum port in the USA. The contents will now probably be confiscated and sold by the US authorities.
According to the WSJ report, the tankers Luna, Pandi, Bering and Bella were all seized without the use of military force in recent days.
The effort was reportedly motivated by the arrival of five Iranian fuel tankers in Venezuela earlier this year, which delivered 1.5 million barrels of gasoline to the country, which is similarly placed under restrictive economic sanctions by the USA.
Two of the ships just seized, the Bering and the Bella, were previously intimidated into canceling their shipments to Venezuela in the aftermath of the flotilla. Both ships are registered in Liberia but owned by Greek shippers.
The Trump administration began imposing strangling economic sanctions on Tehran beginning in August 2018, with the goal of reducing Iranian oil exports to zero, but also chipping away at other Iranian industries as well.
US President Donald Trump claimed Iran had been violating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015, an eight-party deal in which Iran agreed to restrictive rules about its use of nuclear power and storage of refined uranium in exchange for the lowering of longstanding economic sanctions.
According to The New York Times, the agreement that Iran and China drafted is an economic and security partnership that would allow China to invest in Iran’s banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects.
This all is undercutting the US administration’s efforts to isolate the Iranian government because of its nuclear and military defense ambitions.
In Tehran’s view, China and Iran are long-standing strategic partners who are now reinforcing their strategies on the international stage to oppose U.S. unilateralism.
Both countries had already agreed on a strategic partnership in 2016, but this latest agreement allows Iran’s economy to have a semblance of normalcy with this flurry of desperately needed investments.
The agreement is expected to guarantee the supply of Iranian oil to China for the next 25 years, which undoubtedly benefits both parties as the U.S. intends to completely block Iranian crude exports to starve the country of foreign money.
The deal is a major win for China’s Belt and Road Initiative as Iran’s major new investments in transportation, rail, ports, energy, industry, commerce and services will improve China’s network in the region.
Iran serves as a meeting point between South Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East, making it one of the most important countries for the Belt and Road Initiative.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2020.