The US Justice Department on Friday confirmed it had seized the fuel cargo aboard four tankers sent by Iran to crisis-wracked Venezuela, tying the shipments to Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards and stepping up the pressure on its foe.
“With the assistance of foreign partners, this seized property is now in US custody,” the Justice Department said, putting the total at more than one million barrels of petroleum and calling it the largest-ever seizure of fuel shipments from Iran.
The department had issued a warrant last month to seize the cargo of the tankers Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing US officials, that the ships had been seized at sea and were en route to Houston.
President Vladimir Putin on Friday called on the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany to convene an emergency Iran summit to avoid an escalation of tensions in the Gulf.
China, France, Russia, Britain, the United States, Germany and Iran should take part in the video summit, the Kremlin chief said.
“It’s an urgent issue,” Putin said in a statement released by the Kremlin.
“Discussions at the UN Security Council over the Iranian issue are becoming increasingly tense,” Putin said, adding that Moscow’s ally Iran was a target of “groundless accusations”.