Iran prepared to retaliate if US stopped Venezuela-bound tankers

The US, which did not hinder Iran’s tanker cargoes, is considering imposing sanctions on dozens of additional foreign oil tankers for trading with Venezuela. (File/AFP)
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Updated 13 June 2020

Iran prepared to retaliate if US stopped Venezuela-bound tankers

  • Iran sent a flotilla of five tankers of fuel to gasoline-starved ally Venezuela in May
  • Tehran has said it will continue the shipments if Caracas requests more, despite Washington’s criticism of the trade between the two nations, which are both under US sanctions

DUBAI: An Iranian news agency close to the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday Iran’s naval forces were preparing to target US commercial vessels in the Gulf last month in case US forces interfered with Venezuela-bound Iranian oil tankers.
Iran sent a flotilla of five tankers of fuel to gasoline-starved ally Venezuela in May, and Tehran has said it will continue the shipments if Caracas requests more, despite Washington’s criticism of the trade between the two nations, which are both under US sanctions.
“According to reports received by Noor News, after increasing military threats against Iranian vessels headed for Venezuela, an order was issued to Iran’s armed forces to identify and track several US merchant vessels in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman,” Noor News said on its website.
“Options for reciprocal action were immediately identified and monitored for possible operations,” the agency added.
Iran complained to the United Nations last month and summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents US interests in the Islamic Republic, over possible measures Washington could take against the Iranian tankers.
The United States, which did not hinder Iran’s tanker cargoes, is considering imposing sanctions on dozens of additional foreign oil tankers for trading with Venezuela, a US official told Reuters earlier this month.
Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf last year after British forces detained an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar. Both vessels were released after a months-long standoff.
In an alert that appeared aimed squarely at Iran, the US Navy issued a warning last month to mariners in the Gulf to stay 100 meters (yards) away from US warships or risk being “interpreted as a threat and subject to lawful defensive measures.”
Tension between Washington and Tehran has escalated since 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed crippling sanctions targeting particularly its vital oil industry.


Algeria reopens mosques, beaches after 5-month lockdown

Updated 15 August 2020

Algeria reopens mosques, beaches after 5-month lockdown

  • Restaurants were also allowed to reopen, and mosques that can hold more than 1,000 people and ensure social distancing measures
  • Crowds packed beaches Saturday in the capital Algiers, celebrating the opportunity to swim in the Mediterranean Sea

ALGIERS: Algeria started reopening its mosques, cafes, beaches and parks Saturday for the first time in five months, gradually relaxing one of the world’s longer virus confinement periods.
Curfews remain in place in more than half the country, and masks are required outdoors as Algeria tries to keep virus infections down. But authorities decided to start reopening public places starting Saturday, saying the virus infection rate is believed to have stabilized.
Crowds packed beaches Saturday in the capital Algiers, celebrating the opportunity to swim in the Mediterranean Sea amid the August heat.
Restaurants were also allowed to reopen, and mosques that can hold more than 1,000 people and ensure social distancing measures.
However, mosques remain closed to all women, children and the elderly until further notice, and the main weekly Muslim prayers on Friday will remain banned to limit crowds. Mosque-goers must wear masks and bring their own prayer mats.
“This reopening will depend entirely on the discipline of each person to respect protection measures,” said the minister for religious affairs, Mohamed Belmahdi, who was among those attending the first services Saturday at Khaled Ibn El Walid Mosque in the resort town of Heuraoua east of Algiers.
He warned that authorities would close mosques again if Algerians show even a “slight indifference” toward preventive measures. “The health of citizens comes before faith.”
Algeria has reported more than 37,000 virus infections and 1,350 deaths as of Friday, the third-highest death rate reported in Africa after South Africa and Egypt.