Khamenei Advisor Confirms Iran Received 'Gold Bullion' From Venezuela
Five months after Iranian officials denied receiving payment for fuel shipped to Venezuela, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s senior advisor confirmed that Iran received gold for the shipments.
Yahya Rahim-Safavi, a top Revolutionary Guards officer who is Khamenei's advisor in military affairs told Mehr news agency September 27: We gave gasoline to Venezuela and received gold bullion and we brought the gold with airplanes to Iran to prevent any incident during transit.
US Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliot Abrams for the first time on April 30 had announced that Iran is receiving gold for sending gasoline to Caracas. Reports at time said there was an air bridge between Iran and Venezuela in April, when Iran’s Mahan airlines conducted several flights. Mahan Air is sanctioned by the United States for transporting weapons and being used by the Revolutionary Guards for their overseas operations.
Iran’s foreign ministry and other officials rejected Abrams’ remarks at the time, saying that the goal for such accusations is “exerting more pressure” on Iran.
During this controversy, Bloomberg reported that Venezuela is paying Iran with gold and put the amount at $500 million. Five Iranian tankers transported around 1.5 million barrels of fuel in exchange for eight tons of gold. Iran was said to have also provided technical support to revive Venezuela's criplled oil industry.
Iran has had a close relationship with the anti-US Venezuelan government since the days of president Hugo Chavez, for mid 2000s.
Khamenei’s senior advisor also said, “Today Venezuelans are Communist, but they have stood fast against the Americans, so we will help them.” Rahim-Safavi also disclosed that Tehran is helping Caracas in “software”, “establishing popular mobilization forces” and “preventing cyberattacks”. He added that “Any Muslim or non-Muslim country needing assistance, we will help but they have to pay for it.”
Continuing his remarks, the IRGC general said, “We received cash dollars for every assistance we rendered to Iraq. With Syria we have an agreement and we receive certain things. Of course, the Russians benefit more from Syria than we do.”
Iran has been fighting in Syria from almost the beginning of the country’s civil war in 2011. It has deployed tens of thousands of proxy forces it equips, feeds and pays. Some estimates say more than $15 billion has been spent to support Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.