The Biden administration is urging Venezuela and Cuba to turn away two Iranian warships believed to be carrying arms.
A senior Biden administration official said the Iranian warships are thought to be carrying weapons to fulfil a deal that Iran and Venezuela made a year ago, noting that it was during the administration of former President Donald Trump.
The official did not specify the types of weapons involved, but last summer there were reports that Venezuela was considering purchasing missiles from Iran.
According to a defence official, one of the ships is carrying fast-attack boats likely intended for sale to Venezuela.
“The delivery of such weapons would be a provocative act and understood as a threat to our partners in the Western Hemisphere,” the senior administration official said in a statement.
“We would reserve the right to take appropriate measures in coordination with our partners to deter the transit or delivery of such weapons.” He continued.
The White House is pressuring Caracas and Havana over diplomatic channels not to allow the vessels to dock in their countries.
Iran and Venezuela, both facing U.S. sanctions, have increased their cooperation in industrial and energy industries.
U.S. intermediaries have communicated to Venezuelan officials that letting the ships dock there would make it less likely that the U.S. would provide the country with sanctions relief.
Kirsten Fontenrose, an Atlantic Council fellow and former National Security Council official says: “The threat is the precedent it sets, because the UN arms embargo is no longer on Iran and they’re free to import and export. This could be the first of many transfers we see. It allows Iran to proliferate their model of what I call zero to hero, where they arm failing governments or proxy groups and make them larger than they’re capable of being on their own.
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