U.S. Sanctions Against Venezuela
In May, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) for trading with Iran. The press release states that between December 2010 and March 2011 the PDVSA delivered to Iran at least two cargoes of reformate (i.e. a blending component that improves the quality of gasoline), worth approximately $50 million.
The sanctions prohibit PDVSA from competing for U.S. government procurement contracts, from securing financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and from obtaining U.S. export licenses. However, the sanctions do not apply to PDVSA subsidiaries and do not prohibit the export of crude oil to the United States. The measures will also affect other smaller companies PCCI (Jersey/Iran), Royal Oyster Group (UAE), Speedy Ship (UAE/Iran), Ofer Brothers Group, a family owned business (Israel), Tanker Pacific (Singapore), Associated Shipbroking (Monaco).
U.S. sanctions against Venezuela also affected the Venezuelan Military Industries Company (CAVIM) for illicit dealings with Iran.
Following the announcement, U.S. Vice Secretary of State James Steinberg said that "by imposing these sanctions we're sending a clear message to companies around the world: Those who continue to irresponsibly support Iran's energy sector or help facilitate Iran's efforts to evade US sanctions will face significant consequences."
U.S Congressman and Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Connie Mack welcomed the State Department's decision. "The sanctions on PDVSA are an important step in the right direction for U.S. policy toward the region; however, we must acknowledge that PDVSA's shipments are only one example of Hugo Chavez's support for the terrorist-supporting Iranian regime." Mack's communiqué continued that, "Reports of Iranian missile bases in Venezuela, the increasing presence of Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in the country, and [...] sanctioning of Venezuelan Military Industries Company show just how dangerous the Venezuela-Iranian relationship has become".
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez defined the sanctions as an "Imperialist" move, but said that for now he will not take immediate action. "We have an infinity of cards up our sleeves but have not played any of them," The Venezuelan FM Nicolas Maduro said: instead, he said that Venezuela is sovereign in making its decisions, and described the sanctions as "illegal and abusive."
Harsher reactions to the U.S. measure came from the Iranian government. Iran's Defense Minister, General Ahmad Vahidi, accused of being responsible for the terrorist Attack against Jewish targets in Argentina in 1994, commented that "Powerful Iran is ready to deliver a firm response to any hostile and unwise behavior by the United States."
From the press:
June 1, 2011
Iranian Defense Minister: "Powerful Iran is ready to deliver a firm response to any hostile and unwise behavior by the United States"
Iran's Defense Minister, General Ahmad Vahidi, says that the country is prepared to counter any "hostile and unwise behavior" initiated by the United States. He made the remarks during a press conference in the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, on the sidelines of an inauguration ceremony of a defense academy for members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), which includes Latin American and Caribbean nations.
The ALBA is an international cooperation organization built upon social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
"Powerful Iran is ready to deliver a firm response to any hostile and unwise behavior by the United States," said Vahidi, quoted by the Fars news agency. The Iranian minister also described as "illogical and unjustifiable" the recent US sanctions against Venezuela's state-run oil company for its sale of gasoline products to Iran.
Last month, the US government slapped sanctions on seven foreign companies, including Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), over their transactions with the Islamic Republic as part of a US campaign to tighten sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.
"The sanctions have no affects on Iran"
"The US has imposed sanctions on Iran for 32 years. The sanctions have no affect on Iran; rather, they have led to the development and empowerment of the country. There is little doubt that the sanctions on the Venezuelan oil company will [also] lead to self-sufficiency, solidarity and empowerment of the country," Vahidi stressed.
The sanctions will ban the Venezuelan oil company from all US government contracts, US import-export financing and export licenses for sensitive technology. However, it will not stop the company from selling crude oil to the US. Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro has described the sanctions as "illegal, abusive measures taken this week by the government of the United States," and pointed out that "those most affected [by the sanctions] are businesspeople of the United States."
May 30, 2011
"Imperialism harasses the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela"
Around ten thousand people marched in Caracas […] to protest the sanctions by the U.S. on Venezuela's state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) for trading with Iran.
[…] Venezuela will continue selling oil to the U.S. but PDVSA will be prohibited from competing for US government procurement contracts, from securing ﬁnancing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and from obtaining US export licenses. The sanctions do not apply to PDVSA's U.S. based subsidiary, CITGO. […]
President Hugo Chavez congratulated the people on the protest via his Twitter account, saying, "There you have it, the Venezuelan people, the workers, showing what they are capable of when the motherland is threatened. We will overcome!". "The women and heroic mothers of Venezuela are there... All those who feel Venezuelan, join with us in the defense of motherland sovereignty," he said. […]
Minister for Energy and Petroleum Rafael Ramirez spoke at the protest, saying, "Now petroleum builds health, education, housing, it brings justice to all our people." "Our brother countries in OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries], under the undisputable leadership of Venezuela, have strengthened an instrument in defense of our national interests. That is why imperialism invaded Iraq, besieges Iran, bombs Libya, and for the same reason, it harasses the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," Ramirez said. […]
Author and lawyer, Eva Golinger, addressed the at the pro-Chavez rally, along with Cindy Sheehan, outspoken U.S anti-war activist whose son was killed in Iraq. Sheehan talked about how Citgo has been the only company "in the world, including from the United States" to help low income U.S citizens. "Thank you, Venezuela" she said. A delegation from the U.S. read a declaration signed by thousands of people, that rejected the sanctions the "president of the United States had put in place unilaterally." Venezuelan Analysis (a pro-Chavez website)
May 28, 2011
Iranian Foreign Minister: "Unilateral sanctions indicate the isolation of the U.S."
On May 24, the US imposed sanctions against Venezuela's giant oil company PDVSA as part of its campaign to tighten sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Under the sanctions, PDVSA is denied US government contracts and banned from Washington's export financing. "Having the US resort to the outdated tool of unilateral sanctions indicates the isolation of this country in the international community and insults the resolve of other countries in choosing their political and trade partners," Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said […].
Referring to the firm stances of senior Venezuelan officials, Mehmanparast said, "These stances show that the illegitimate and arrogant US measures have no effect on the independent and freedom-seeking resolve of nations."
Venezuela's Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also the head of PDVSA, said on May 25 that Venezuela would continue to maintain relations with Iran and any other country it wants. "The independent identity of Latin America is a reality that imperialist countries, especially the US, have to accept and respect," Mehmanparast concluded. Press TV (Iran)
May 25, 2011
US's "Imperialist attack"
The Venezuelan government criticized the Obama administration's move to impose sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, calling the sanctions an "imperialist attack" against Venezuela. The U.S. State Department enforced the sanctions in an attempt to put further pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program by penalizing companies which continue to trade with the Islamic Republic. […]
Between December 2010 and March 2011 Venezuela, which has friendly bilateral relations with Iran, exported $50 million worth of a fuel additive to Iran. The U.S. government deemed the trade relations to be in breach of the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act.
[…] Although PDVSA will continue to sell oil on the U.S. market, the sanctions – which will last two years – prevent the company from entering into contracts with the U.S. government, as well as barring it from import-export finance programs and obtaining licenses for U.S. oil processing technology. None of the company's subsidiaries will be affected.
The Venezuelan members of the opposition "are representatives of North American imperialism"
In a press conference on Tuesday, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Relations Nicolas Maduro said: "We are not afraid of these sanctions, nor are we going to debate the reasons that the North American government may have, but Venezuela is sovereign in making its decisions."
An official document rejecting the sanctions was drafted and signed by pro-Chavez Venezuelan ministers, but opposition politicians refused to sign it. "This shows once again that these politicians are representatives of North American imperialism," said Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez.
Ramirez also stated: "The imperialist powers are hoping to dictate the rules to us. They will have to go without, because we are going to keep advancing towards creating unity between oil-producing countries." […]
Ahmadinejad accuses the U.S. of supporting dictators
Although Iranian President Ahmadinejad maintains that the program is purely for supplying energy to civilians, the U.S. claims that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad has previously accused "nuclear nations" of "monopolizing" science and technology in order to protect their own interests and also of prohibiting other countries from the "peaceful use of nuclear energy".
In a speech following the inauguration of an oil production project in the city of Abadan […], Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. government of supporting dictators in the region. However, he did not comment on the newly imposed sanctions. "Anywhere there is a dictator he is supported by you...he is your stooge..." he said in direct reference to Washington. […] In an official statement the Venezuelan government said it would undertake a "general assessment of the situation to determine how these sanctions affect the operational capacity of our oil industry and, therefore, the supply of 1.2 million barrels of oil per day to the U.S." Venezuelan Analysis (Pro-Chavez website)
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