In a non-military intervention, the Trump administration has seized four oil tankers that were hauling Iranian oil to Venezuela. The move is seen as part of the administration's ongoing effort to exert "maximum pressure" against Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.
The convoy of tankers included nine different ships, five of which belonged to Iran. Those vessels have been left alone. The other four were all under private ownership, and chose to break from the convoy when contacted by the U.S. government. They are now heading to Houston, Texas.
The U.S. has been trying for months to gain judicial approval in order to seize tankers carrying Iranian oil and gasoline to Venezuela. Federal prosecutors have accused Iran's military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, of evading sanctions by smuggling fuel deliveries through dummy companies.
The Trump administration is hoping that if its efforts are successful, shipping companies worldwide will be discouraged from doing business with two of the United States' greatest enemies.
The U.S. fears that continued world commerce and financial dealings with both Iran and Venezuela only help prop up and stabilize the corrupt and destructive regimes governing both.