I prefer the terms "filch" or "dispossess", not "seize", because:

[a] "senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that no military force was used in the seizures and that the ships weren’t physically confiscated. Rather, U.S. officials threatened ship owners, insurers and captains with sanction to force them to hand over their cargo, which now becomes U.S. property, the official said."

AP - Officials: U.S. seizes Iranian gas heading for Venezuela

"The US definitely bullied this crew into surrendering and now owns the boat and oil"


According to World Factbook, US is the #1 producer of natural gas with 920.9B m3. Venezuela is #28 with 27.07B m3. Thus US doesn't need this gas, particularly when COVID19 lowers gas demand in US.

I read U.S., Iran Approach Showdown Over Oil Tankers Headed for Venezuela, which suggested that the fact that the tankers were headed to Venezuela was relevant, but it drummed up (pun intended) this question — Why does the US care if Iran meddles in Venezuela?

The United States "will not tolerate continued meddling" by Iran in Venezuelan affairs, a senior Trump administration official told the Washington Free Beacon, bringing nearer the possibility of a naval confrontation between the United States and Tehran over its shipment of oil to the heavily sanctioned Maduro regime.

Five Iranian oil tankers are currently making their way to Venezuela, where they intend to bust an economic blockade established by the Trump administration on President Nicolas Maduro, whose regime has teetered on the brink of collapse since the United States deemed him the country's illegitimate leader and placed a bevy of sanctions on the regime. The tankers included in Iran's fleet are already subject to U.S. sanctions, as is the oil transported on the ships.

Recent Stories in National Security

The situation puts the administration in a tight spot: Either it enforces its "maximum pressure" campaign on both nations or avoids sparking a wider military conflict in American waters. President Trump has been clear about his intent to enforce the Monroe Doctrine—a policy of not permitting foreign nations to intervene in the Americas—but he has not yet been confronted with a high-stakes challenge from hostile regimes so close to U.S. soil.

  • 3
    You've got a bunch of questions here. If you want answers, you should split them up and remove some of your opinion from the question (even if you think it's merited).
    – divibisan
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 21:00
  • 2
    Because the US enjoys breaking international laws and getting away with it.
    – Alice
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 0:57
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    @Alice - I don't think that is correct. They don't do it because they enjoy it, they do it because it helps their goals and because they can.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 3:00
  • 1
    @Obie2.0 I was using (mostly) the second definition of "enjoy", "possess and benefit from", so pretty much what you say. But with the current administration, I wouldn't be surprised if the actual joy became part of the decision-making.
    – Alice
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 3:42
  • 4
    Why is this closed? This is a good question that must be asked! Call it what you must but the US is basically "pirating" a foreign ship in international waters.
    – Noah
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 23:05

1 Answer 1


There are US sanctions against Iran and against Venezuela. These ships violated both.

  • 12
    The us does not have primacy on international waters. As far as I know, seizing those ships is piracy, i.e. an international crime
    – SeanJ
    Commented Aug 14, 2020 at 23:07
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    @SeanJ An official government action is by definition not piracy. Governments cannot commit piracy, which is specifically theft for private ends.
    – cpast
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 1:42
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    And yet, the US does not attempt to seize every Iranian oil tanker, or every oil shipment to Venezuela. Charitably taking this answer as an explanation instead of an attempted justification, it is very much incomplete.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 3:02
  • 1
    I should add that Iran did detain an American ship together with the crew in 2016: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/….
    – markvs
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 0:54
  • 6
    There's so much wrong with the answer and is very over simplified...US has no authority between trade of two countries.
    – Noah
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 23:06

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