US discusses Iran sanctions with Venezuela

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2011 (AFP) - US officials have "discussed" concerns that Venezuela may be breaching international sanctions on Iran, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Thursday.

"We have had discussions with Venezuela regarding the Iran Sanctions Act," Crowley told reporters in referring to the US laws that places economic sanctions on firms doing business with Iran.

Washington is closely examining whether Venezuela's cooperation with the Islamic republic on energy issues violates international sanctions on the Tehran regime over its nuclear program, which Western powers fear is a cover to build nuclear weapons.

The scrutiny comes after Venezuela and Iran, two major oil producers and longtime US foes, signed 11 deals in Tehran focused on energy cooperation in October.

US diplomats have had "broad conversations internationally with countries... who might have companies or entities that do business with Iran," Crowley said.

"And we have lots of conversations to ensure that countries and companies are in full compliance" with both international and also national sanctions, he added.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a congressional panel Tuesday that the United States will take action if Venezuela violates international sanctions against Iran.

But the top US diplomat also acknowledged there was no evidence so far that leftist Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez had violated any such sanctions.

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