The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12) 

by , 03/22/11

filed under: News

New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.

Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.

There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigationrates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.

John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.

The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.

Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”

Via Metro and NY Daily News

Images © Ed Yourdon

Antichrist who blames coronavirus on same-sex marriage demands Islamic flag raised across UK and EU to counter-protest Pride flag

Iraqi leader who blames coronavirus on same-sex marriage demands Islamic flag is raised across UK and EU to counter-protest Pride flag

An Iraqi leader who blamed the coronavirus pandemic on same-sex marriage is, to the surprise of no one, raging over a Pride flag in Baghdad.

Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is head of the Sadrist Movement and the Saraya al-Salam militia, said in March: “One of the most appalling things that have caused this epidemic is the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

“Hence, I call on all governments to repeal this law immediately and without any hesitation.”

Al-Sadr has now turned his attention to the raising of the LGBT+ Pride flag by the EU delegation to Iraq in Baghdad to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Iraqi leaders call queer people ‘psychotic’.

He was joined by Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance, in calling the LGBT+ community “psychotic patients”.

Al-Sadr and al-Amiri, the two leaders of Iraq’s largest political parties, called for the Islamic flag to be raised at embassies across the UK, Canada and the EU the counter-protest the Pride flag in Baghdad.

Al-Amiri called for the expulsion of European ambassadors who organised the flag raising, and said: “What the European Union mission and British and Canadian embassies did in Baghdad with the gay flag is an outrageous and improper act that violates the customs, traditions and ethics of Iraqi society.”

LGBT+ Iraqis face persecution and deadly violence.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Iraq but discrimination is legal and widespread and LGBT+ people are frequently victims of violence, vigilante justice and honour killings.

Fariba Sahraei, senior editor of Iran International, said in a statement: “What we have witnessed with Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri’s comments is the explicit promotion of homophobia and intolerance in Iraq, where the LGBT+ community is already repressed.

“Similarly in Iran, the LGBT+ community can be killed simply for being who they are, and on the International Day Against Homophobia, this is deeply troubling.”

U.S. Attacks on China Threaten World Peace (Daniel 7)

Jonathan Power19 May 2020

Photo: Donald Trump poses with Xi Jinping for a photo after a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2017. Source: IndiaTVNews

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN) – The world is supposed to be pulling together to defeat the Coronavirus and to some extent it is. Earlier on Russia sent special equipment to the U.S. and recently the U.S. has sent some to Russia. China has aided Italy and Africa with doctors and equipment. Tiny Cuba, with its deep pool of doctors, has also helped Africa.

Around the world there is a sense of “we are all in this together” and that this is a bigger problem than the ones the world has faced since World War II. The last two days the World Health Organization (WHO) has brought all the world’s countries together to discuss how to go forward.

Both the U.S. and China, to a degree, have messed things up. President Donald Trump has been vicious in his attacks, suggesting Chinese culpability for spreading the virus. (He’s forgotten how the U.S. incubated AIDS, an even greater killer. But China never blamed the U.S.) He started the provoking and needling weeks ago, calling the virus “a Chinese virus”.

Then when some Chinese senior officials (but not the leadership) publicly shouted back, Trump hit back, ever harder. It wasn’t Trump versus President Xi Jinping. It was Trump versus much lower down officials and some of the Chinese media. So, what good did that unnecessary spat do?

What Trump’s representatives needed to say at the World Health Organisation’s special two-day assembly that began on May 18 was, “Let’s sit down and with our best scientists discuss not who is to blame but how such diseases can be forestalled”. That is likely to bring a better result. China has now said, changing its previous position, that after the disease is overcome it will be cooperating with an international inspection carried out by the WHO to ascertain how and why what went wrong. In fact, it needs to be encouraged to open up to WHO’s experts long before that.

Meanwhile, China has been boasting about the speed at which its lockdown worked. The South Koreans are boasting how with fast-moving testing, tracing and social distancing they defeated the virus without a lockdown and Sweden is speaking of how the relaxed alternative to lockdown which it is practicing works over the long run. Hopefully, some cross-fertilization of the best ideas and practices will come out of this conference.

Trump’s antagonism towards China existed before the time of Corona. Despite his bonhomie with Xi whenever he meets him, he has gone all out with his trade war. He refuses to negotiate an extension of the nuclear weapons reduction agreement with Russia unless China (a relatively small nuclear power) is brought into the deal, which Russia interprets understandably as a go-slow tactic.

Trump plays into a very old-time visceral fear of the “yellow peril” which not so long ago was a minority feeling in America. But he has managed to whip up a broad swathe of public opinion to be anti-China. The Democrats (and much of the media) have followed him. Not just Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presidential candidate, but also Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, even though their attacks are less pointed.

This goes nowhere. What’s the point of it?  In the end the U.S. will lose. China has a population 4 times as much. Before that long it will begin to match the U.S.’s income per head, at least in its eastern more developed and more populated parts. Its high technology is already ahead of the West’s in many areas. Its military budget is increasing (but not by much).

Where does this hostility come from? The late Harvard professor, Samuel Huntington, famous for his book, “The Clash of Civilizations” in which he predicted war between the Islamic world and the West wrote as well about the gulf between the U.S.-led West and Chinese civilization, which he also believed was set for a head-on violent collision.

“Americans see government as a necessary evil”, writes Graham Allison, another Harvard professor, “and believe that the state’s tendency toward tyranny and abuse of power must be feared and constrained. For the Chinese the government is a necessary good, the fundamental pillar ensuring order and preventing chaos…. China’s equivalent of ‘give me liberty or give me death’ would be ‘‘give me a harmonious community or give me death’.”

Both countries believe they are number one in the world. Both have an extreme superiority complex. Both think they are exceptional. But, unlike China, the U.S. has sought to prevent the emergence of a “peer competitor” that could challenge its own military dominance. (This is aimed against Western Europe and Russia as well as China.)

America wants to export its concepts of democracy and human rights. China, as Henry Kissinger noted, does “not export its ideas but let others come to seek them”. China thinks that the U.S. pushes for these virtues as a tactic to undermine its form of government. (Interestingly, there are human rights courses at some Chinese universities that are independent in content.)

Then there is a profound cultural difference. Americans tend to focus on the present and too easy forget the lessons of the past – as with the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Iraqi wars. The novelist Gore Vidal has noted his country should be called “The United States of Amnesia”. The Chinese are more historically minded and often think in terms of decades or generations.

China has not gone to war since 1979. For its part the U.S. has attempted regime change around the world 72 times. Nor has China funded or supported proxies or armed insurgents since the early 1980s.

According to Fareed Zakaria, “That record of non-intervention is unique among the world’s great powers. Beijing is now the second largest funder of the United Nations and its peacekeeping work. It has deployed 2,500 peacekeepers, more than all the other permanent members of the Security Council combined. This highlights the remarkable shift from a radical agenda of spreading revolution to a conservative concern for stability. It has become a guardian of the international status quo. Had someone predicted this in 1972 few would have believed it possible”.

China has come a long way since the aggressive days of Mao Zedong, whereas the U.S. appears in some ways to have gone backwards.

As for trade, the international bank, Credit Suisse, said in a 2015 that a tally of 450 non-tariff barriers against foreign goods put in place by major countries showed that the U.S. is a league of its own as number one. China is fifth in the list. In a recent survey of U.S. companies, conducted by the U.S.-China Business Council, intellectual property protection ranked sixth on a list of pressing concerns, down from number two in 2014.

That year China created its first specialized courts to handle intellectual property cases. In 2015 foreign plaintiffs brought 63 cases to the court. The court ruled for the foreign firms in all cases.

Trump’s case against China on the Coronavirus, on military posture and on trade is wildly exaggerated. It needs to stop being made. The U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said the West must keep China in “its proper place”. This gets us exactly nowhere.

The Coronavirus and the debate over who is right and who is wrong could become a watershed moment in the relationship between the U.S. and China. Nothing could be more counterproductive. Nothing could be more damaging to the peace of the world.

Note: Copyright Jonathan Power. Website: The writer was for 17 years a foreign affairs columnist and commentator for the International Herald Tribune. [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 May 2020]

Photo: Donald Trump poses with Xi Jinping for a photo after a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2017. Source: IndiaTVNews

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate. –

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. Feel free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially. Please credit to the author and IDN-InDepthNews.

Russia’s Autonomous Nukes (Daniel 7)

Russia’s Su-57 Stealth Fighter | Unmanned Fighter Jets

• Russian state media claims the Su-57 fighter is undergoing unmanned flight testing.

• The report, based on an unnamed source, is suspect and should—for now—be treated as a rumor.

• Despite problems with the report, it is likely a window into the direction Moscow wants to go and a capability the Russian Aerospace Forces would like in the near future.

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Russia’s new Su-57 stealth fighter is reportedly undergoing unmanned testing. The Sukhoi Su-57, codenamed “Felon” by NATO, is a large twin-engine stealth fighter in the same rough class as the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor. The claim could well be true, but should be taken with a grain of salt.

According to RIA Novosti, an arm of the Russian state media services, the Su-57 is flying unmanned at an undisclosed location in Russia. Novosti cites an unmanned source which claims that the fighter is flying with a pilot, but the pilot is merely monitoring the aircraft’s systems.

The Su-57 is designed to fulfill both anti-air and air-to-ground roles. The aircraft is Russia’s first stealth fighter, with a reduced radar cross-section from the frontal and side aspects. The Su-57, along with the U.S.’s F-22 Raptor, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and Chinese J-20 is a so-called “fifth-generation fighter,” mixing speed, stealth, and advanced weapons and sensors.

The RIA Novosti report is troublesome—not only does it come from a news outlet controlled by the Russian state government, the actual source is remained anonymous. Typically, piloted aircraft modified for autonomous missions require the installation of equipment to remotely manipulate the weapons, sensors, and flight controls. The Su-57 is a single-seat aircraft, and if there is a pilot sitting in the seat, there is no room for such equipment. Either the Su-57 used for unmanned testing is a two-seat variant or the aircraft is controlled remotely via software.

Russia’s aviation industry lags behind others in the development of autonomous combat aircraft, but Moscow is trying hard to catch up. Last year saw the introduction of the S-70 Okhotnik (“Hunter-B”) strike drone. Russia envisions the Su-57 and S-70 working together in wartime as a team, with the Su-57 clearing the skies while the S-70 conducts strikes against enemy forces on the ground. Alternatively, the S-70 could act as an robotic wingman for the piloted Su-57.

The Su-57 was first revealed in 2010, the announcement taking the world by surprise. Russian state media boasted the Russian Aerospace Forces would receive 144 “Felons” by 2012. In reality, development and funding problems forced Moscow to repeatedly pump the brakes on the program, to the point that co-development partner India exited the program. Sukhoi has delivered only 13 jets, all prototypes and pre-production models. The company is supposed to begin serial production this year on 76 Felons, but a decade of promises and delays, it’s best to wait and see.

Moscow definitely wants you to believe the Su-57 is flying without a pilot, but the timing is also suspicious. For example, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed six new nuclear weapons in March 2018, weapons that really did turn out to be real. The Russian Army was supposed to have 2,300 brand-new T-14 Armata main battle tanks by 2020, but the service likely has less than 50.

The unmanned Su-57 might be flying in the right direction, but when it lands with the Russian Aerospace Forces is anyone’s guess.

Iran Attacks US Embassy (Daniel8:4)

Rocket Hits Near US Embassy in Baghdad, a Day After Khamenei said US ‘Must Withdraw’ from Iraq, Syria

The blast could be heard across the Iraqi capital and triggered security sirens at the US embassy compound but did not cause casualties, the sources confirmed.

News18One rocket hit near the US embassy in Baghdad early Tuesday morning, security sources told AFP, the first to land in the high-security zone in weeks.

The blast could be heard across the Iraqi capital and triggered security sirens at the US embassy compound but did not cause casualties, the sources confirmed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

It follows more than two dozen similar attacks against American interests in Iraq since October that the US has blamed on Iran-backed factions among Iraq’s security forces.

The volleys of rockets, which have killed US, British and Iraqi armed personnel, have severely strained ties between Baghdad and Washington.

Tensions reached boiling point in January when the US killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike on Baghdad.

But the US and Iraq have hoped to reset the relationship since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi took the helm earlier this month, with bilateral talks planned for June.

The negotiations are expected to set a framework for the presence of US troops, which deployed to Iraq in 2014 to lead a coalition fighting back the Islamic State group.

But the forces are a thorn in the side of Iran and its allies in Iraq, which have insisted they leave the country.

On Sunday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US “will not be staying either in Iraq or Syria and must withdraw and will certainly be expelled”.

The US-led coalition has already drawn down its 7,500-strong force in Iraq this year, citing a decreased threat from IS and difficulties training Iraqi forces due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Pro-Sistani factions leave Shia forces, but Iraq’s PM signals antichrist’s men are here to stay

Pro-Sistani factions leave Shia forces, but Iraq’s PM signals they are here to stay

Omar Ahmed

An undated file photo shows Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, in Iraq [-/AFP via Getty Images]

May 18, 2020 at 2:48 pm

Much has been written about the growing rifts between the Shia seminary cities of Najaf in Iraq and Qom in Iran, centred on the role of politics and religion. While the Najaf school is known for its quietist stance, Qom advocates the theocratic ideology of Wilayat Al-Faqi. These tensions are particularly noticeable over the disagreements in the direction the Hashd Al-Shaabi or Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) should take. Last month four factions loyal to the Najaf religious authority pulled out of the PMF, which may complicate the efforts against the creeping re-emergence of Daesh attacks and may impact the resistance against the US military presence in the country.

With a force some 150,000-strong, the PMF owes its existence to the 2014 fatwa of the Najaf-based Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani, the highest and most followed Shia religious authority in Iraq and beyond. This fatwa, the first of its kind in a hundred years, mobilised many young Iraqis to volunteer to combat Daesh which had taken control of up to a third of the Iraqi state and parts of neighbouring Syria. The PMF, which is now very much part of the state and is in theory under the command of the Iraqi prime minister, is an umbrella of various blocs. These include influential Iranian-supported factions which are the most equipped and funded but also groups with ties to the pro-Sistani institutions, loyalists to Moqtada Al-Sadr and those affiliated with non-Shia minorities

Originally from Iran himself but an Iraqi patriot and part of the Najaf establishment for decades, Al-Sistani has seldom interfered with the affairs of the state despite his enormous following, however on occasions, if it is deemed in the interest for Iraq’s sovereignty, he has been known to issue relevant fatwas such as encouraging participation in elections, challenging the US on how the country’s constitution was formed and preventing full-scale civil war by urging restraint in the wake of the Al-Askari shrine bombings between 2006-2007. However, some critics point to his pragmatic approach in dealing with the US occupation of the country and also the comparatively muted opposition by him and his predecessor Ayatollah Khoei during the era of Saddam Hussein, unlike the charismatic and outspoken cleric-activist, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr (uncle of Moqtada) who paid with his life.

New Iraq PM: Those who attack protesters will be held accountable

Daesh was considered territorially defeated back in 2017, which from the standing point of Al-Sistani’s fatwa would have seen the PMF fulfil its purpose – however the more pro-Iran factions within it not only considered the Daesh threat far from over, which is the case, but also committed themselves to the withdrawal of the US from the country. Calls to this effect only increased after the assassinations of Iran’s Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and PMF deputy head Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis and the growing pressure from Baghdad on the US to leave in the aftermath.

The four factions which split from the PMF are the Imam Ali, Ali Al Akbar, Abbas and Ansar Al Marjaiya brigades, with notice served to the head of the PMF that their “operations and administration” were to be directed by the prime minister’s office and the Ministry of Defence. As mentioned earlier, the PMF is also under the command of Iraq’s prime minister but are overseen by the Popular Mobilisation Authority and carry out independent operations with the consent of the military. The Iranian-supported factions are the most powerful bloc, which is where the clash of interests come into play. That pro-Sistani affiliated units are not part of the upper-levels of the PMF command structure also could be a reason which led to them breaking away – they are said to have rejected the appointment earlier in the year of Al-Muhandis’ successor, Abu Fadak Al-Muhammadawi, a former core member of Kataib Hezbollah. Accusations also exist of an unequal distribution of PMF resources. Recent reports indicated that an appeal by a pro-Iranian politician had been rejected following a meeting with Sistani’s representative Ahmed Al-Safi.

Iran says will support new Iraq government

It has been argued that the departure of the pro-Sistani groups will impact the PMF militarily and potentially even politically, given some of the pro-Iranian factions have representation in parliament. However, any doubts regarding the future of the PMF’s legitimacy in Iraq were soon put to rest with the new Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who was thought to have been appointed as a result of a compromise between the US and Iran. The former intelligence chief has reaffirmed his government’s support for the PMF, describing them as a “force of the homeland”. Al-Kadhimi visited the PMF’s headquarters on Saturday meeting with the PMF head Falih Al-Fayyadh and was gifted a PMF uniform, which he subsequently wore

Furthermore, the rivalries between Najaf and Qom are not significant nor severe enough to disrupt the strong ties that exist between Iraq and Iran. Iran’s military attaché met with Iraq’s new Defence Minister Juma Anand Saadoun to discuss bilateral relations.

New resistance factions are also springing up in Iraq, focussed on the illegal US military presence in the country. One recently established group, Usbat Al-Thaireen, uploaded drone footage early last month showing the US embassy was well within its sights as well as Ahab Al-Kahf group which attacked a US military convoy in Saladin. Now a new faction, Thawrat Al-Ishrin II has announced its formation by releasing footage of an attack against a US military convoy in Babil.

The PMF will remain a powerful force in Iraq, despite the loss of the pro-Sistani factions, the threat of Daesh although reduced, remains as does the presence of US bases, therefore the PMF will still enjoy support from the Iraqi government and Iranian-supported resistance factions will continue to operate. Having said that, the only person powerful enough to disband the PMF legitimately is the same person who called for its establishment, aware of the serious threats Iraq continues to face, this is unlikely.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

Iran Warns the US Not to Damage the Oil (Revelation 6:6)

Iran warns US against disrupting fuel shipments to Venezuela

Reports suggest four US Navy warships are in the Caribbean for a ‘possible confrontation with Iran’s tankers’.

Iran’s foreign minister on Sunday warned the United States against deploying its navy in the Caribbean to disrupt Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela.

According to an oil shipment analyst, five Iranian-flagged tankers loaded with tens of millions of dollars worth of fuel are heading towards Venezuela.


• Iran media warn US against any move on fuel shipment to Venezuela

• Sanctions in the era of pandemic

• All Iran mosques set to reopen

In a letter to United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, Mohammad Javad Zarif warned against “America’s movements in deploying its navy to the Caribbean in order to intervene and create disruption in [the] transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela”.

He said any such action would be “illegal and a form of piracy” adding the US would be responsible for “the consequences”, according to a foreign ministry statement.

A senior official in US President Donald Trump’s administration told Reuters news agency on Thursday that the US was considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.

Iran’s Fars News reported on Saturday it received information that four US Navy warships are in the Caribbean for a “possible confrontation with Iran’s tankers”.

Zarif’s deputy summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents Washington’s interests in Tehran, to communicate Iran’s “serious warning” on Sunday. Abbas Araghchi said any potential threat to Iran’s tankers would be met with a “quick and decisive response”.

The US has imposed unilateral sanctions aimed at ending oil exports by both Iran and Venezuela, both major crude producers.

Full speed ahead

Five Iranian tankers likely carrying at least $45.5m worth of petrol and similar products are now sailing to Venezuela, part of a wider deal between the two US-sanctioned nations amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The tankers’ voyage come after Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolas Maduro already turned to Iran for help in flying in chemicals needed at an aging refinery amid a petrol shortage, a symptom of the wider economic and political chaos gripping Latin America’s one-time largest oil producer.

For Iran, the tankers represent a way to bring money into its cash-starved country and put its own pressure on the US, which, under President Trump, has pursued maximalist campaigns against both nations.

But the strategy invites the chance of a renewed confrontation between the Islamic Republic and the US both in the Gulf, which saw a series of escalating incidents often involving the oil industry last year, and wider afield.

“This is like a new one for everyone,” said Captain Ranjith Raja, an analyst who tracks oil shipments by sea at the data firm Refinitiv, of the petrol shipments. “We haven’t seen anything like this before.”

All the vessels involved belong to Iranian state-owned or state-linked companies, flying under the Iranian flag. Since a pressure campaign on Iranian vessels began, notably with the temporary seizure of an Iranian tanker last year by Gibraltar, the country’s ships have been unable to fly flags of convenience of other nations, a common practice in international shipping.

Nothing to lose

The ships all appear to have been loaded from the Persian Gulf Star Refinery near Bandar Abbas, Iran, which makes petrol, Raja said. The ships then travelled around the Arabian Peninsula and through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, according to data collected from the ship’s Automatic Identification System, or AIS, which acts as a tracking beacon.

Given the crushing US sanctions imposed on Iran, also-sanctioned Venezuela appears to be a country that would have nothing to lose from accepting the shipments.

Raja said Refinitiv had no data on any Iranian petrol shipment ever going to South America before., a website focused on the oil trade at sea, first reported the ships likely were heading to Venezuela.

The capacity of the five ships is some 175,000 metric tonnes. On the open market, the petrol and product carried within them would be worth at least $45.5m, though Iran likely reached a discounted, non-cash deal with Caracas given the circumstances the two nations face, Raja said.

It remains unclear how the US will respond to the tankers. On Thursday, the US Treasury, State Department and Coast Guard issued an advisory warning the maritime industry of illegal shipping and sanctions-dodging tactics by countries including Iran.

The advisory repeated an earlier promise of up to $15m for information disrupting the Revolutionary Guard’s finances. It also warned anyone “knowingly engaged in a significant transaction for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport or marketing of petroleum” faced US sanctions.

The US State Department and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Analysts already have been warning about the growing chance for a renewed confrontation between the US and Iran.

In April, the US accused Iran of conducting “dangerous and harassing” manoeuvres near American warships in the northern Gulf.