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Iran denounces U.S. tracking of its ships that may be headed to Venezuela

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By Reuters

DUBAI – Iran on Tuesday rejected as interference a reported U.S. monitoring of Iranian navy vessels that may be headed to Venezuela, saying Tehran would not be breaching international law even if it sent arms to its Latin American ally.

Western media including CNN and Politico have said that the United States has been monitoring two Iranian warships that may be headed to Venezuela, possibly with a cargo of arms.

Last year, Tehran began sending tankers carrying gasoline to Venezuela to help ease an acute fuel shortage there. Both Iran and Venezuela face U.S. sanctions.

“Iran reserves the right to enjoy normal trade ties in the framework of international law and regulations, and considers any interference and monitoring of these relations as illegal and insulting, and strongly condemns it,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a weekly news conference.

Without confirming that the ships carried weapons, Rabiei said Iran had the right to trade arms after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration failed last year to stop a U.N. conventional arms embargo on Iran from expiring.

“Regardless what these ships carry, there is no ban on the purchase and sale of weapons by Iran. … America did its best to maintain the sanctions last year, but it failed miserably,” Rabiei said in remarks carried by a state-run website.

Trump left Iran’s 2015 nuclear pact in 2018. Then last August, Washington said it had triggered a process at the United Nations Security Council to reimpose U.N. sanctions on Iran and maintain the arms embargo.

But 13 of the 15 Security Council members said Washington’s move was void as Washington had abandoned the pact.