The United States will face consequences if it takes action against Iranian tankers en route to Venezuela, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has vowed. It comes after the Venezuelan military said it would escort the ships to port.

“If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face trouble caused by the Americans, they [the United States] will also be in trouble,” Rouhani told Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during a telephone conversation, Tasnim News reported.

He stressed that his country is not interested in escalation but would take necessary action to defend its sovereignty and safeguard its national interests. “We hope the Americans will not make a mistake,” he explained to Qatar’s head of state.

Five tankers transporting 1.5 million barrels of Iranian fuel to Venezuela are currently near the Caribbean, with the first ship scheduled to reach the country’s territorial waters by Sunday.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez announced earlier this week that Caracas will send ships and aircraft to meet the tankers once they enter the country’s exclusive economic zone. The decision was made after Washington signaled it was “looking at measures that can be taken” to stop the “unwelcome” delivery to Venezuela.
Tehran has scoffed at the threats of “piracy” and warned of retaliation if anything is done to block the “free and legal movement” of the tankers.

The US has targeted Caracas and Tehran with crippling sanctions, while maintaining a presence in international waters near both countries.

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