The U.S. is closely tracking an Iranian navy transport ship headed for the Caribbean – possibly Venezuela – and is prepared to take action against the delivery of any weapons which may be on board, administration officials said on Friday.
By qCaptain – David Wainer (Bloomberg)
Jun 12, 2021
The Biden administration reserves the right to take measures, in coordination with allies in the region, to deter the transit or delivery of weapons, one of the officials said. A State Department official added that the U.S. is prepared to use sanctions against any actor that enables Iran’s provision of weapons to violent partners and proxies.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a Senate committee on Thursday that he is “absolutely concerned about the proliferation” of weapons in the Western Hemisphere. Austin was responding to Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal’s comments that the Iranian ship is carrying missiles and fast-attack boats to Venezuela.
“Allowing this ship to dock seems significant to me on many different levels,” the Connecticut lawmaker said. “It would be the first time that Iranian vessels have made such a transit and the precedent of allowing Iran to provide weapons to the region causes me grave concern.”
When pressed by Blumenthal, Austin said he’d prefer to discuss questions about the ship’s cargo in a closed session.
Venezuelan officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.