Iran sends warships to Atlantic
ISABEL DEBRE and JON GAMBRELL
Images from Maxar Technologies dated April 28 appear to show seven Iranian fast-attack craft typically associated with its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on the deck of the Makran. Satellite images from Planet Labs Inc. suggest it left a port at Bandar Abbas sometime after April 29. It wasn’t immediately clear where the Makran and the destroyer are now.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price would not speculate on what the vessels were carrying, saying only “that if this is an effort to transfer weapons or otherwise to violate its international obligations we would be prepared to respond.”
“We have seen the press reports regarding this movement,” Price said. “We’re prepared to leverage our applicable authorities, including sanctions, against any actor that enables Iran’s ongoing provision of weapons to violent partners into proxies.”
The website Politico first reported in late May, citing anonymous officials, that the ships’ final destination may be Venezuela. Iran maintains close ties to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and has shipped gasoline and other products to the country amid a U.S. sanctions campaign targeting fuel-starved Caracas. Venezuela is believed to have paid Iran, under U.S. sanctions of its own, for the shipments.