Tehran’s oil minister denied ownership of four vessels and their cargo previously seized by the US on the high seas, after Washington dubbed it the “largest-ever seizure of Iranian fuel.”

“Neither the ships nor their cargo belong to Iran, but this shipment included gasoline sold by Iran to Venezuela,” Bijan Zanganeh, the oil minister of Iran, was quoted as saying by IRNA state news agency. 

The United States has confiscated “not the property of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the property of Venezuela,” Zanganeh said.

Last week, four tankers – the Bella, the Bering, the Pandi, and the Luna – were intercepted on their way to Venezuela, reportedly near the Strait of Hormuz. The vessels, carrying an estimated 1.1 million barrels of fuel, were boarded without the use of force and rerouted to a port in Houston, Texas, American officials say.

The US Justice Department revealed later that some unspecified “foreign partners” laid the groundwork for “the [US] government’s largest-ever seizure of fuel shipments from Iran.”

Iran previously dispatched five tankers to deliver fuel to Venezuela, where petroleum is in huge demand due to the lingering political turmoil and economic downturn.

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