Iran’s naval forces were readying an attack against U.S. commercial vessels in the Gulf last month in case U.S. forces intercepted Iranian oil tankers heading to Venezuela, an Iranian news agency close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stated on Saturday.
“According to reports received by Noor News, after increasing military threats against Iranian vessels headed for Venezuela, an order was issued to Iran’s armed forces to identify and track several U.S. merchant vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman,” Noor News said on its website, according to Reuters.
“Options for reciprocal action were immediately identified and monitored for possible operations.”
The United States is planning to expand sanctions in an effort to stymie oil and fuel trade between Iran and Venezuela, reported The Wall Street Journal last week, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Trump administration could sanction as many as 50 tankers, according to the report.
Iran sent five oil tankers to Venezuela in May despite U.S. criticism of the trade.
Such moves would exemplify the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign since withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions under it, along with enacting new penalties against the regime.