First Iranian tanker carrying gasoline enters Venezuelan waters
The first of five Iranian tankers carrying fuel for gasoline-starved Venezuela has entered the Latin American country’s territorial waters despite the US threats.
According to Press TV, the Iranian-flagged tanker, named Fortune, arrived in Venezuela's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Saturday evening, online tracking data shows.
When entering the Venezuelan waters, the tanker was closely followed by a US cargo ship, the Adam Joseph, according to media reports.
Earlier in the day, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani warned of retaliatory measures against the United States should Washington make "trouble" for Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.
"If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face trouble [caused] by the Americans, they (the US) will also be in trouble in kind," Rouhani said in a phone conversation with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Saturday.
In Caracas, the defense minister had pledged that the country’s Armed Forces would escort the tankers once they reached the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) due to what authorities described as threats from the United States.
The Iranian tanker 'Fortune' is followed by other four tankers - the Clavel, the Forest, the Faxon and the Petunia - all en route to Venezuela’s shores.
The tanker flotilla is carrying a total of 1.53 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela, according to both governments, sources and calculations by TankerTrackers.com.
The hashtag #GraciasIran [Thank you, Iran] has been launched on Twitter to mark the arrival of the Iranian tankers, with netizens hailing the cooperation between Tehran and Caracas in defiance of the US de facto naval blockade.