The United States is monitoring Iranian vessels that are heading to Venezuela allegedly loaded with weapons.
Satellite images from the company Maxar, dated April 28, show seven high-speed missile attack craft strapped to the deck of the Markan, according to an analysis by the independent U.S. Naval Institute (USNI).
John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman informed that the U.S. is monitoring the deployment of the two Iranian vessels, whose destination is presumed to be Venezuela.
Is Venezuela expecting Iranian vessels?
In an interview with the Voice of America, White House hemispheric affairs advisor Juan Gonzalez said that “what Venezuela would be doing is destabilizing the region even more”, but reserved his comments on intelligence matters.
So far Venezuela remains silent without informing about the voyage of the two warships, while Teheran only indicated that they will travel through international waters in the Atlantic Ocean.
Various sources reveal that one of the vessels is the Markan, considered to be the largest ship manufactured in Iran and which has a platform to transport up to seven helicopters.
According to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), these vessels are believed to be carrying weapons to comply with an agreement Iran and Venezuela made a year ago.
“The precedent of Iran being allowed to send arms to an adversary in this hemisphere is pretty alarming,” he added.
The delivery of Iranian weapons to Venezuela would be a “provocation and would be understood as a threat to our partners” in Latin America and the Caribbean, warned a senior U.S. official quoted by Politico.
In view of the situation, Republican senators have warned about “Iranian aggression” in the Western Hemisphere. In that sense, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) shared an article on how the regime of Nicolás Maduro is pushing for aggression with Iranian vessels on the way.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Politico: “The bottom line is, either [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro should unconditionally turn them around, or we should force them to turn around.”
Both Sen. Blumenthal and Sen. Rubio speculated that Iran may be trying to test the Biden-Harris administration just as Washington and Tehran hold indirect talks in Vienna focused on resurrecting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Germany, China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and Iran, the countries remaining in the pact, have been trying since last April to resume an agreement through contacts coordinated by the European Union.