An Iranian plane owned by a company said to be sanctioned by the US over alleged weapons shipments to Syria, landed in Venezuela yesterday, according to a Venezuelan opposition lawmaker and flight tracking data, reports Reuters.
Posting on Twitter, Jose Manuel Olivares who represents the state of Vargas said the EP-FAB 747 aircraft is owned by Iran's Qeshm Fars Air and landed at Simon Bolivar International Airport, also known as Maiquetia airport, west of the capital Caracas.
The flight tracking website Flightradar24 showed the aircraft descending toward Caracas around 4pm local time after taking off in Tehran the previous night. The plane made stops in Tunisia and Cape Verde before flying to Venezuela, according to the data.
Both countries have seen their ties grow stronger as they seek to mitigate their respective economic crises which have worsened due to US imposed sanctions. Tehran has also helped Venezuela overcome its fuel shortage and has sent several flotillas of tankers despite threats made by the US to seize them. Venezuela has in turn provided Iran with up to $500 million worth of gold as its currency spiralled downwards.
Earlier this week US special envoy for both countries, Elliott Abrams announced his country would "eliminate" any long-range missile shipments made from Iran to the South American country. "We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and if somehow they get to Venezuela they will be eliminated there," Abrams told Fox News.
In August, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said it would be a "good idea" for his country to purchase Iranian missiles a day after neighbouring Colombia accused his government of planning to buy the weapons.
As of 18 October, the UN Security Council arms embargo imposed on Tehran was lifted leaving Iran free to legally buy and sell conventional weapons without violating the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from in 2018 and failed in its bid to have the embargo extended.