Iran vows ‘retaliation’ in case its oil tankers seized by US

TEHRAN, May 18 (MNA) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemned the US’ threats against free trade, warning that any seizure of Iranian tankers will be retaliated.

"Free trade between independent states is legitimate, and what is illegal is interference in these relations and the US is standing at the forefront of that. Trump's America is looking for a kind of international anarchism that is an alarm for the whole world to defend the legacy of multilateralism under the UN Charter,” Mousavi said in his weekly presser on Monday.

"The US threat is an illegal and blatant act, and if they do something, we will retaliate,” he said, adding that the US cannot force other countries to abandon trade with a state that it dislikes. 

“These vessels are laden with fuel and destined for Venezuela. I’m not aware of their exact location now. The tankers have been dispatched officially and legally and there is no barrier for them. We hope that America would not commit any stupid act, otherwise, it will receive our strong response.”

Unconfirmed reports and tanker monitoring groups said at least five Iranian-flagged tankers are transporting fuel to Venezuela through the Atlantic Ocean despite US sanctions targeting both Tehran and Caracas.

The US Navy is said to have deployed its USS Detroit (LCS-7), USS Lassen (DDG-82), USS Preble (DDG-88), and USS Farragut (DDG-99) to the Caribbean along with its patrol aircraft Boeing P8-Poseidon for a possible encounter with the Iranian vessels.

In a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday, Zarif described "the illegal, dangerous and provocative US threats [against the Iranian tankers]" as a form of piracy and a big threat to international peace and security. He then highlighted the responsibility of "the US administration with regard to the consequences of any illegal move, reiterating Iran's right to adopt appropriate and necessary measures in the face of such threats.

Tehran also summoned Swiss ambassador whose country represents US interests in Tehran, to voice the country's vehement protest at US provocations.

MAH/ 4928124

News Code 158832

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