US monitoring two Iranian warships 'heading to Venezuela' as intent & cargo remains a mystery amid tensions with Tehran
US SECURITY officials are monitoring two Iranian warships that could be heading for Venezuela.
An Iranian frigate and a former oil tanker converted to a floating forward staging base, known as the Makran, are sailing south along the east coast of Africa, it has been reported.
US intelligence officials are on high alert as they try to determine the destination of the journey, the motives behind it, and what cargo the ships could be holding – and they believe they are headed to Venezuela,anonymous sources told Politico.
It comes amid increasing tensions between Iran and the US – suggesting it could be an intimidation tactic towards Washington from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Both Iran and Venezuela have bonded while being under heavy sanctions from the United States, forming a close relationship between the allies.
Iran has eased Venezuela's paralysing gas shortages by sending over multiple fuel tankers and has even collaborated on businesses with them.
Iran has introduced a car assembly plant and a huge cement factory in Venezuela too.
But senior officials surrounding President Nicolás Maduro’s government in Caracas have expressed their concerns regarding welcoming the ships and "believe it would be a mistake", according to Politico.
The 755-foot long Makrtan was commissioned earlier this year and boasts an array of electronic, missile and weapon abilities.
It is even able to carry up to six helicopters and numerous drones, according to Iranian media.
The close proximity of Iran's warships and the US – a mere 1,500 miles – threatens to thwart President Joe Biden's plan to re-open negotiations with Tehran.
The strained relationship dates back to 2018, when former President Trump ditched the Iran Nuclear Deal that Obama produced with Tehran.
The country is now enriching enough uranium to make nuclear bombs, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog has warned.
Branded "horrible" and "one-sided", by Trump, US and Iranian diplomats are now engaged in indirect talks in Vienna — with the help of European intermediaries — aimed at restoring the JCPOA.
Iran has insisted that the US must lift sanctions before it fully returns to the deal.
Biden was warned it should be a "priority" to continue enforcing Iran's sanctions after the country's elite Revolutionary Guards released a disturbing propaganda video.
The clip, broadcast nationwide ahead of a speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, shows the US Capitol being blown up by a missile while soldiers "liberate" Jersualem.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey said: " The Biden admin’s priority should be ensuring Iran cannot carry out such an attack, not capitulating by removing sanctions."
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