Iran vessel leaves Venezuela port ‘carrying 14,000 tonnes of alumina’, used to make missile-propellant

Iran vessel leaves Venezuela port ‘carrying 14,000 tonnes of alumina’, used to make missile-propellant
The Iranian embassy wrote on Twitter that Venezuela had shipped a cargo of 'mangos and pineapples' to Iran as part of 'win-win commercial relations'.
2 min read
28 August, 2020
Alumina is used to make Aluminium, a key ingredient in solid-fuel missile propellants [Getty]

An Iranian vessel delivering supplies to an Iranian supermarket in Venezuela has left a port in the south American country carrying 14,000 tonnes of alumina, Reuters reported.

Alumina, refined from bauxite, is used in the manufacture of Aluminium. Aluminium, in its powder form, has been produced for many years at a secret facility for use in Iran's missile program, a earlier Reuters report in June revealed.

The Golsan, a general cargo ship, is owned and managed by two separate Tehran-based firms, Mosakhar Darya Shipping Co and Rahbaran Omid Darya.

Both were among the hundreds of Iranian banking and shipping firms blocked in November 2018, as the Trump administration uniliaterally withdrew from a nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions.

Vessel tracking data shows the Golsan departing from Iran's Bandar Abbas in May, arriving in Caracas late June, when Iran's ambassador to Venezuela said it was carrying new supplies to an Iranian supermarket set to open in Caracas.

The data from Refenitive Eikon shows the Golsan then taking a detour through the Orinoco river in eastern Venezuela, docking in early August at a port belonging to CVG Bauxilum, a state-owned bauxite and alumina company.

Two people familiar with the shipment told Reuters that the vessel was then loaded with 14,000 tonnes of alumina.

From there, data shows the ship travelling to the country's La Guira port, where according to state TV it arrived in order to transport fruits to Iran.

The Iranian embassy on Aug 22. wrote on Twitter that Venezuela had shipped a cargo of mangos and pineapples to Iran as part of "win-win commercial relations", showing a video of truck of the port.

While data shows the Golsan currently sailing east across the Atlantic Ocean, the vessel has still signalled its own destination as the La Guaira port.

The development points to warming ties between the two US-sanctioned states, which have escalated their trade links in recent months to in a bid to revive their struggling economies.

In April, Iran sent Venezuela five fuel tankers to address major gasoline shortages and airlifted equipment to enables the country's largest petroleum refining complex to restart output.

Read also: The geopolitics of Iran's fuel shipments to Venezuela

Washington, which aims to topple Madura and quash Iran's nuclear ambitions, has looked onto the economic ties between Caracas and Tehran with disdain.

Fuel cargoes aboard four tankers destined for Venezuela were seized this month by the Trump administration, who also sanctioned a Chinese company assisting Iran's Mahan Air, the airline who carried the refinery equipment to Venezuela.

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