The U.S. has warned it will not tolerate the shipment of any Iranian missiles to Venezuela, and any such missile shipment may be destroyed.
Elliott Abrams, the State Department Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela, told Fox News, “The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted.”
“We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and if somehow they get to Venezuela they will be eliminated there,” a senior administration official added.
Ties between Iran and Venezuela have been strengthening as both nations struggle under U.S. sanctions. Iran has shipped missiles to militias it backs, so shipping missiles to allies is a possible next step.
“Iran has shipped missiles to the Houthis, so we know they are ready, willing, and able to ship them to Venezuela and other possible buyers,” the administration official told Fox News. “Every delivery of Iranian arms destabilizes South America and the Caribbean, and is especially dangerous to Venezuela’s neighbors in Brazil, Colombia, and Guyana.”
In August, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro had said it was a “good idea” to discuss missile purchases with Iran, pointing to the “great relations we have with Iran,” Reuters reported at the time.
“Iran has announced its intention to engage in arms sales, and Venezuela is an obvious target because those two pariah regimes already have a relationship,” said Abrams.
In the past few months alone, Iran has sent three tanker ships with hundreds of thousands of barrels of gasoline to support Venezuela amid its fuel shortages and protests.
“Venezuela is paying in gold to buy gasoline from Iran, and there is an Iranian presence in the country. Venezuela’s economy has collapsed, so every bar of gold for Iran is tens of thousands of dollars the Venezuelan people need for food and medicine,” Abrams added.