Absolutely nothing will be done by the Dr Keith Rowley administration to facilitate “in any way” the passage of any Iranian flagships carrying petroleum products to Venezuela, National Security Minister Stuart Young has assured.
Young gave the position after being questioned in Parliament yesterday by UNC MP Ramona Ramdial about the five Iranian tankers currently sailing to Venezuela with fuel supplies for that country. Both countries have been sanctioned by the US.
T&T was spotlighted recently following allegations that a fuel shipment sold by Paria Fuel Trading Company to fuel tycoon Wilmer Ruperti’s ES Euro Shipping SA and initially bound for Aruba in April, allegedly ended up in US-sanctioned Venezuela. Government’s also under fire for the March visit of Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez, who’s also sanctioned by the US.
On the heels of that came Ramdial’s query yesterday for Young to state Government’s policy with regard to “facilitating in any way” the passage of Iranian flagged ships carrying petroleum products to Venezuela.
In replying, Young accused the UNC of issuing a deliberate narrative to misrepresent T&T’s foreign policy. He said what Ramdial was saying was also being said by the Venezuelan Opposition in that country, “and the (UNC) is trying to incite US sanctions against T&T.”
He pointed out that on March 8, Government adopted a UN Security Council resolution – under the Sanctions Act – involving a resolution regarding Iran.
“So this Government will be doing absolutely nothing to facilitate in any way the passage of any Iranian flagship carrying petroleum products to Venezuela.”
Young said it was wrong for the UNC to say the Government didn’t comply with sanctions.
The tankers transporting US$45.5 million worth of gasoline and similar products are en route to Venezuela as part of a wider deal between the two US-sanctioned nations. The Venezuelan military is escorting them. Their voyage arose after Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro sought assistance from Iran amid his country’s gasoline shortage.
The five ships are the Fortune, Hyundai Mipo (formerly known as Petunia), Forest, Faxon and the Hyundai Mipo (formerly known as MV Clavel).
With the US placing Iran and Venezuela under sanction, the five Iranian vessels have been put on the US Department of Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.
There was a recent news report that the vessels “may be headed” toward T&T ports. But yesterday, international sources indicated this wasn’t occurring.
However, regional ports were recently advised of the tankers’ journey and that countries which take certain actions to assist the tankers can be sanctioned.
It was confirmed that sanctionable activity by the US could include the following:
n Providing vessel registry, flagging, or classification services of any kind to such vessels;
n Providing insurance or re-insurance to such vessels;
n Providing bunkers, fuel, or other petroleum products, or bunkering or other servicing to such vessels;
n Participating in repair of ships and/parts;
n inspecting, testing and certifying marine equipment materials and components;
n Doing surveys, inspections, audits and visits and the issuance, renewal or endorsement of the relevant certificates and documents of compliance, as they relate to ships and shipping; and
n Any other goods/services relating to maintenance, supply, bunkering and docking of such vessels.