The Trump administration has been considering new sanctions and other steps in response to Iranian oil exports to Venezuela, reported The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, citing U.S. officials.
Aside from sanctions, other possible steps the United States could take include confiscating the tankers, according to the outlet.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal, only to state that the department has consistently called out Iran and Venezuela.
A U.S. Treasury Department spokesperson told the outlet that the department “will continue to aggressively use its sanctions authorities to target malign activity and sanctions evasion” and that anyone who works with Venezuela’s oil business could be sanctioned by the United States.
This development comes as, according to the Associated Press on Sunday, five Iranian tankers apparently consisting of at least $45.5 million in value of gasoline and similar items are currently sailing to Venezuela in defiance of U.S. sanctions.
A senior U.S. official told Reuters on May 14 that the Trump administration is reviewing measures it could take in response to the shipment.
Amid economic collapse, Venezuela has been relying on Iran to prop up its oil industry by giving the Islamic Republic tons of gold bars, thereby depleting the South American country’s gold vaults, reported Bloomberg late last month, citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
What was once an oil-rich nation, Venezuela holds some 70 tons of gold in its vaults, according to Bloomberg.
The U.S. Navy issued an alert on Tuesday to vessels in the Gulf to stay 109 yards away from American ships or else be “interpreted as a threat and subject to lawful defensive measures.”
“Armed vessels approaching within 100 meters of a U.S. naval vessel may be interpreted as a threat,” according to the text of the notice.
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