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Iranian official says Iran already sold cargo on tankers seized by US

The Iranian President’s Chief of Staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, dismissed the U.S. claims about seizing four Iranian fuel tankers, stressing that the ships and cargo do not belong to the Islamic Republic.
“Neither the ships nor their flags belong to Iran,” Vaezi told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Fars News reported.
“The cargo on these ships had already been sold and we had already been paid as well,” he added.
The Wall Street Journal had claimed in a report on Friday that the Trump administration has for the first time confiscated cargo in vessels allegedly loaded with Iran fuel in violation of sanctions.
It quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying that the four ships, Luna, Pandi, Bering and Bella, were seized on the high seas in recent days and are now en route to Houston, Texas.
The WSJ report also quoted an official saying the vessels had been taken over without the use of military force but didn’t provide any details.
Later, several U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump, repeated the claim, alleging that the cargo belonged to Iran and was en route to Venezuela.
Yesterday, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said the United States’ claim on confiscating four fuel tankers belonging to Iran is totally absurd, adding that Washington forges victory for itself.
Zangeneh said on Tuesday that Washington’s claim over seizing 4 Iranian Venezuela-bound tankers is ridiculous since neither the ships nor the cargoes belonged to Iran, adding that the cargo had been delivered to Venezuela on international trade scheme of Freight on Board of the ships (FOB) at sea.
The United States is trying to make a victory for itself, he noted.
“United States has, in fact, seized Venezuela’s assets not Iran’s,” the minister underlined.
Immediately after the WSJ report, Iranian envoy in Venezuela Hojjat Soltani strongly rejected a Wall Street Journal report claiming that the U.S. has seized four Iranian tankers, while another official in similar remarks said neither the ship nor the cargo belong to Iran.
“Another lie and psychological war from the Imperialist propaganda apparatus of the U.S.,” wrote Soltani on his Twitter account on Friday, adding, “Neither are the tankers Iranian nor do their owner or flags have anything to do with Iran.”