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Venezuela cuts ties with US over Iran

 
 
 
 
 
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Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela has severed its relations with the US after Washington imposed sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company for supplying gasoline to Iran.

According to examiner.com, Venezuela officially “froze” relations with the United States on Sunday, a top diplomat from President Hugo Chavez’s government said.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro also hinted that re-establishing relations with the US would be “impossible.”

On May 24, the US imposed sanctions against Venezuela’s giant oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) for providing Iran with gasoline and other refined oil products.

Under the sanctions, PDVSA is denied US government contracts and banned from Washington’s export financing.

Maduro had earlier described the sanctions as “illegal, abusive measures taken by this weak government of the United States.”

Venezuela’s Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also the head of PDVSA, said on May 25 that Venezuela would continue to maintain relations with Iran and any other country it wants.

“This is a right we are not going to renounce,” Ramirez said.

Approximately 26 percent of Venezuela’s imports are from the United States. Venezuela is one of the United States’ main suppliers of petroleum, selling it about 1 million barrels of oil per day.

The UN Security Council adopted a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran in 2010 under intense pressure from the US, which claims Iran’s nuclear program may have potential military aspects. Iran has repeatedly refuted the allegations.

Shortly after the UN sanctions, the US imposed fresh unilateral sanctions against Iran’s financial and energy sectors, encouraging other countries to abandon investment in the Iranian market.

Under the imposed measures, US firms are banned from carrying out trade exchanges, importing from and exporting goods to Iran and making ventures in the country.

Foreign banks and corporations doing business with Iran could be denied access to the US Export-Import Bank, their ability to sell in the US market would be restricted, and would be denied US government contracts.

Iran says that as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to use the peaceful applications of nuclear energy for electricity generation and medical research.

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