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US sets plan to expand sanctions against tankers
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The Trump administration, expanding an effort to choke off oil and fuel trade between Iran and Venezuela, is readying new sanctions against dozens of tankers while pressuring companies associated with those vessels, according to people familiar with the plans.
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The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control is preparing to add as many as 50 tankers to its blacklist for working with Venezuela's Maduro government, one of the people familiar with the plans said.
Treasury officials last week sanctioned four firms and their vessels for involvement in Venezuelan oil trade. Last month, the State Department threatened sanctions against a pair of Greek-owned tankers, heading off what officials in Washington said were planned Iranian fuel deliveries to Venezuela.
The additional tanker sanctions will mark a dramatic expansion of the U.S. effort both to interrupt the revenue and commodity streams and disrupt a developing relationship between the two autocratic governments.
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Five Iranian tankers have unloaded fuel desperately needed by Venezuela in recent weeks. However, those deliveries represented a diplomatic gesture that was "just a ribbon-cutting," one of the people familiar with the matter said, given that the fuel deliveries will last the country only a few weeks.