Sen. Rubio: Venezuela Must Turn Back Iranian Ships Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, speaks during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 21, 2021. (GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
By Jeffrey Rodack | Thursday, 10 June 2021 02:04 PM
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., citing a report that an Iranian warship is trying to deliver attack boats to Venezuela, said in a tweet that the vessel must be turned away or the U.S. should intervene.
In his tweet, Rubio linked to a story by Politico that noted the Biden administration is urging Venezuela and Cuba to turn away two Iranian warships believed to be carrying arms intended for transfer to Caracas.
A senior Biden administration official vowed the U.S. will take "appropriate measures" to deter what it sees as a "threat."
And Politico noted that the intelligence community has evidence that one of the ships, the Makran, is carrying fast-attack boats.
Rubio tweeted on Thursday: "Venezuela bought attack boats from #Iran last year, but only now are they trying to deliver them. Ignore the petty sniping from Biden officials & focus on what matters.
"Either (Nicolás) #Maduro unconditionally turns them away or U.S. should force then to turn around."
According to Politico, satellite imagery of the Makran from early May showed seven vessels placed on its deck, but it had been unclear whether those boats were still aboard when the ship left port.
"The delivery of such weapons would be a provocative act and understood as a threat to our partners in the Western Hemisphere," the senior administration official said in a statement to Politico. "We would reserve the right to take appropriate measures in coordination with our partners to deter the transit or delivery of such weapons."
CNN reported the attack boats are often used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Persian Gulf. They can be equipped with weapons ranging from small arms to anti-ship missiles.
Officials say the U.S. has been monitoring the ships for over two weeks. The news network reported last week the vessels have been off the east coast of Africa for the past several days.
They had been expected to round the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of the continent sometime this week, but experts now say they are not expected to arrive until July.
The Associated Press reported that Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh declined to say where the Makran was going.
"Iran is always present in international waters and it has this right based on international law and it can be present in international waters," he said. "No country is able to violate this right, and I warn that no one makes miscalculations. Those who sit in glass houses should be careful."