US seizes Iran oil shipments destined for Venezuela

The US has seized four Iranian fuel shipments en route to Venezuela and confiscated the cargoes, the Justice Department said on Friday. (File/AFP)
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Updated 16 August 2020

US seizes Iran oil shipments destined for Venezuela

  • The Trump administration is seeking to force Maduro to resign

CHICAGO: The US confiscated more than 1.1 million barrels of Iranian petroleum from four foreign oil tankers destined for Venezuela, Justice Department officials said.

The oil was being shipped by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization, to the government of beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The Trump administration is seeking to force Maduro to resign. He was indicted in March on charges he engaged in a decades-long narco-terrorism and international cocaine trafficking conspiracy. Prosecutors said he led a violent drug cartel before becoming president.

US officials said the raid on the Iranian oil shipment had been authorized in a federal complaint filed on July 2, seeking to forfeit all petroleum-product cargo carried by four foreign-flagged oil tankers.

The seizure order for the cargo from all four vessels was issued by US District Court Judge Jeb Boasberg following charges filed by the Justice Department. The confiscated cargo is estimated to be valued at nearly $50 million.

Justice Department officials said Iran responded by seeking to recover the oil, unsuccessfully raiding several ships.

Funds successfully forfeited with a connection to a state sponsor of terrorism may in whole or in part be directed to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund once the case is concluded, officials said. A trial date has not yet been set.


Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

Updated 3 min 39 sec ago

Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

  • Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots
  • The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey and Greece are ready to resume talks in a bid to overcome a dispute over maritime boundaries and rights to exploit oil and gas resources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Tuesday.
The statement followed his video conference meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel.
During the meeting, Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots — and said the “momentum” for dialogue should be protected,” according to the statement.
The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights in an area between Turkey’s southern coast, several Greek islands and the war-divided island of Cyprus. Turkey sent a research vessel into the disputed waters this summer.
Following mediation efforts by Germany and others, Turkey pulled back the research vessel to port and both countries eased their naval presence and halted military exercises, paving the way for a dialogue.
It was not clear when and how the talks would begin. Erdogan told Merkel and Michel that “steps to be taken by Greece” would determine the course of the talks.
Greek-Turkish talks to resolve disputes were last held in 2016.
The Turkish leader also said he hoped that the next European Union summit would breathe new life into Turkish-EU ties, including allowing Turkish citizens visa-free travel rights to Europe and sealing a new agreement on migration.
EU members Greece and Cyprus had been pushing for EU sanctions against Turkey at the Sept. 24-25 summit meeting to due Turkey’s search for energy inside Cyprus’ economic zone. But the summit has been postponed for a week because Michel has gone into quarantine after a close collaborator was diagnosed with COVID-19.