Iranian warships 'heading to Venezuela': US military

Iranian warships 'heading to Venezuela': US military officials
2 min read
01 June, 2021
Sources claimed that an Iranian frigate and a former oil tanker now transformed into a floating forward staging base have been spotted heading towards Africa's eastern coast.
The last delivery of Iranian oil to the US occurred in October 2020. [Getty]

Two Iranian naval vessels are heading for Venezuela, according to US national security officials monitoring the ships.

An Iranian frigate and a former oil tanker - now transformed into a floating forward staging base - have been spotted heading towards Africa's eastern coast, according to a report published by Politico on Sunday.

"US officials do not know for sure the destination of the Iranian ships, but believe they may be ultimately headed for Venezuela," officials were cited saying.

The move would likely worsen relations between Iran and the US, amid an already tense political climate between the two powers. 

Read more: US unloads seized Iranian oil at Texas port

According to sources, senior officials from the Nicolás Maduro administration in Venezuela have been "advised" that welcoming Iran's warships would be "a mistake". 

"Lawmakers privy to the most sensitive intelligence information were informed over the past few days that the US believed the Iranian ships may be heading toward Venezuela, but cautioned that the destination could change," the report cited sources saying.

Local Iranian media reported that one of the vessels in question can carry up to seven helicopters and can serve as a platform for special operations, including electronic warfare.

The US has seized ships suspected of carrying Iranian oil as part of its tough campaign of sanctions against Tehran, which were imposed by the administration of former US President Donald Trump after it unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal in 2018. 

Since April, the Biden administration has been engaged in indirect talks with Iran in order to negotiate a return to the deal.

The talks are focused on Iran returning to compliance with limits on uranium enrichment imposed by the JCPOA deal in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions.