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Biden administration urging Venezuela, Cuba to turn away Iranian ships: report

Biden administration urging Venezuela, Cuba to turn away Iranian ships: report
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The Biden administration is urging Venezuela to turn away two Iranian naval ships that are believed to be headed towards the country, Politico reported.

Multiple sources close to the matter told Politico the White House is pressuring Venezuela's government to not allow the Iranian ships, which are believed to be carrying arms, to dock. One congressional official said Biden officials are reaching out to countries neighboring Venezuela to ensure that the ships do not dock.

Politico first reported in May the U.S. was monitoring the Iranian ships, though at the time their ultimate destination was uncertain. Officials within Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government have also reportedly advised against allowing the ships to dock. A weapons transfer from an Iranian ship to Venezuela would be a highly provocative action that goes directly against U.S. warnings, Politico notes.

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Both Venezuela and Iran are currently under under heavy sanctions by the U.S. The two countries have developed close ties over the years, working together on gasoline shipments and factory projects. The presence of Iranian ships in the Western hemisphere could endanger ongoing Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna, which the U.S. is indirectly engaged in through allies.

Politico reports that the Venezuelan government is using the situation as leverage to have some of the U.S. sanctions against it relieved. However, U.S. officials have reportedly made it clear that allowing the ships to dock will make sanction relief only less likely.

The ships have completed more than half their voyage as of Wednesday, Politico notes, traveling more than 1,000 miles northwest of Cape Town, South Africa. This is the first time the Iranian navy has travelled this far into the Atlantic.