U.S. warns Iran against sending missiles to Venezuela: send them and destroy them

After the U.N. arms embargo against Iran expired this month, the U.S. envoy warned that the United States would “destroy” all long-range missiles shipped from Iran to Venezuela, without providing any evidence that Iran had sold any weapons to Venezuela, the Russia Today website reported on 26 July.

According to Fox News, Elliott Abrams, the U.S. State Department’s special representative for Iran and Venezuela, said Monday, “The United States cannot accept the transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela, it will not be tolerated or allowed.”

He added, “We will do everything we can to stop the shipment of long-range missiles, and if they somehow get into Venezuela, they will be destroyed there.”

Although Abrams provided no evidence that such a transfer of weaponry had occurred or any indication that such a shipment was imminent, he insisted that Venezuela would be an “obvious target” for Iranian arms sales because of the “nexus between the two pariah regimes.”

The threat from the US envoy comes as the US Treasury Department on Monday launched a new round of sanctions against Iran’s oil sector for its alleged involvement in the sale of gasoline to Venezuela.

In a statement, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin accused “the Iranian regime of using the oil sector to fund the destabilizing activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).”

The increase in U.S. sanctions comes after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced last Friday the creation of a “Military Council of Science and Technology”. Maduro said the move would protect Venezuela’s “independence” in the face of U.S. sanctions.

Maduro said last week: “Despite all the blockades and sanctions, we are continuing to equip our armed forces and to be ready to defend our territory.”

Last Friday, Iran blacklisted three U.S. diplomats for their support of the harsh U.S. sanctions regime and their involvement in the assassination of Iranian General Suleimani earlier this year.

U.S.-Iran tensions continued after Trump announced that the United States had unilaterally withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and began reimposing sanctions lifted under the deal.