Any US harassment of oil tankers to be responded decisively: defense min.

TEHRAN, May 20 (MNA) – Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said that any US harassment of Iranian tankers will be met with a decisive response.

“Any disruption for tankers is against international regulations and security,” Hatami said on Wednesday referring to the release of some reports on the threat of US officials to harass tankers carrying Iran’s fuel to Venezuela.

“Both international organizations and countries that are sensitive to water regulations and security must react to this issue,” he added.

Stating that any US harassment of Iranian tankers will be met with a decisive response, Hatami said, “It is a kind of piracy.”

“Of course, our policy is quite clear, and we have made it clear that we will not tolerate any harassment,” he stressed, adding, “The Americans and others know that we will certainly not hesitate to react to this issue, and if the harassment intensifies and continues, it will certainly face a decisive 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.

ZZ/FNA 13990231000678

News Code 158924

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