Tasnim News Agency via Wikimedia Commons

While there is no evidence of an imminent shipment, the recent end of the UN arms embargo against Iran is making illicit missile transfers to and from Iran and other rogue regimes more likely. The Trump administration, however, is drawing a clear line in the sand now, promising to destroy any Iranian long-range missiles shipped to the illegitimate socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

Elliott Abrams, the State Department Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela told Fox News that, “The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted.” The administration has gone on record as saying that any missiles would be prevented from reaching Venezuela; however, the Trump administration seems willing to destroy them even in Venezuela if needed.

Another senior administration official added that “We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and if somehow they get to Venezuela they will be eliminated there.”

Meanwhile, Abrams continued:

Iran has announced its intention to engage in arms sales, and Venezuela is an obvious target because those two pariah regimes already have a relationship. Venezuela is paying in gold to buy gasoline from Iran, and there is an Iranian presence in the country. Venezuela’s economy has collapsed, so every bar of gold for Iran is tens of thousands of dollars the Venezuelan people need for food and medicine.

Any Iranian effort to ship missiles to Venezuela will be a serious provocation and test of U.S. resolve. Behnam Ben Taleblu at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies was quoted by Fox as saying:

Missiles and terrorism are key components of Iranian security policy. Iran has already spread Lebanese Hezbollah, its chief proxy, throughout South America. Potential Iranian missile or military shipments to South America will constitute a major test of the administration’s arms embargo on Iran. Russia and China will be watching closely to see how Washington responds.

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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