US Sanctions Iranians for Delivering Gasoline to Venezuela

Two Venezuelan oil tankers stuck at sea, with most customers fearing buying it

During a news conference Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new round of sanctions against five Iranian ship captains who delivered gasoline to Venezuela in violation of US demands. Pompeo warned that any other mariners considering also shipping things to Venezuela would face the same thing, and that it “is simply not worth the risk.”

The legitimacy of the US sanctions remains to be seen, as the ban on selling gas to Venezuela, or buying gas from Iran, are unilateral US measures that are only enforceable to the extent that the US threats force many nations to comply.

That the US is able to keep doing this is underscored by a pair of Venezuelan oil tankers which have spent two months stuck at sea. They are full of oil, but no country with refinery capacity will buy it, because they fear the wrath of the US, particularly its banking sanctions, if they dare to buy a drop of Venezuelan oil.

Since US sanctions are already unleashed on Iran and Venezuela as much as possible, there is little incentive for them not to do business with one another. US threats against individual captains notwithstanding, the two nations are almost certain to continue trading.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.