Iran's IRGC Gears Up For 'Routine' Fuel Shipments To Venezuela, Defying Trump

Here we go again — Iran is prepping a round two of major sanctions-busting gas delivery to fuel-starved Venezuela, which is of course rich on heavy crude oil but currently lacks the capacity to refine it based on its derelict and badly in need of repair facilities. 

Amid continued White House threats of military intervention to uphold a sanctions blockade on the Latin American country, “Iran may send two or three shipments per month in regular sales of gasoline to Venezuela,” reports Reuters

It's a clear direct challenge to the Trump administration, after both "rogue" states last month celebrated five Iranian tankers loaded with gasoline successfully making it to Venezuela and offloading fuel, for which Maduro sent a military escort which included jets, helicopters, and naval patrols. 

AP file image: IRGC speedboat near an oil tanker in the gulf.

But local media suggests the delivery, estimated at 1.5 million barrels of fuel, has made little noticeable impact on the long lines at gas stations across Venezuela. 

The last round of deliveries appeared to have been a 'test run' of sorts, given Washington not only threatened naval intervention against the tankers, but directed threat of punitive action against any regional ports which accept them.

The deliveries could now become monthly, Reuters reports, also driven by the global oil glut leaving the Islamic Republic desperate to offload its abundant domestic produced fuel:

Two of the sources said Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards military unit, which answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were determining policy on Venezuela.

“This is a long-term strategic decision made by the state to expand influence,” said one Iranian trader familiar with the policy, likening it to Iran’s cargoes for Syria.

Regardless, there's no doubt Pompeo and the State Department will further see continued Iran deliveries part of the Islamic Republic's expanding influence operations in South America.

Last year Pompeo accused Iran-backed Hezbollah of penetrating Latin America in alleged global narcotrafficking operations, though there's been little to no evidence backing this claim.