The United States has economic sanctions in place against both Iran and Venezuela. That commonality has created a concord between those two nations, in other respects very unlikely allies, and that concord is reflected in the arrival of five tankers from Iran, in Venezuela, last weekend.
A deal struck by several nations, including the United States, during the Obama period, to lift an earlier round of sanctions on Iran was a constant target of Donald Trump’s ire during his 2015-16 campaign for President. “I’ve been making lots of wonderful deals; that’s what I do. Never, ever, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with Iran,” he said. It was a surprise to no one, then, when President Trump cancelled that deal and return US/Iran relations to the frozen pre-deal status quo.
US relations with Venezuela have evolved with less public deliberation that those with Iran, but they have devolved into the same frosty condition.
The Thing to Know:
Although Venezuela has vast oil reserves, its economy is in such tatters that it cannot do its own refining. The flotilla from Iran carried about 1.5 million barrels of refined fuels. The US said that it was “monitoring” the tankers but did nothing to interfere with their passage.