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The Iranian Dilemma: Will Venezuela’s Petroleum Lifeline Provoke Washington?

In a modern parallel of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis, 5 Iranian vessels, laden not with nuclear weapons, but with embargoed Iranian petroleum are believed to be heading for Venezuela. While this comparison may seem like hyperbole, a brief consideration of limited courses of action open to the US leaves little doubt of the potential risk for escalation and miscalculation. The US faces a unique challenge within its immediate sphere of interest by this shipment which is something it almost certainly did not expect before the Presidential Election in November. Any response by the US will require a delicate balance of Presidential ego, national interest and diplomatic nuance in order to ensure the stability of an already fragile region.