The head of Venezuela's state oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) said the "imperialist" United States could "go to hell" after it slapped sanctions on the company over alleged ties to Iran.
"The imperialists can go to hell. Their sanctions mean nothing us. No one is going to impose this kind of action against us," Rafael Ramirez, who also serves as energy and petroleum minister, said late Wednesday.
"We do what best serves the people of Venezuela and what best serves the interests of the Venezuelan state," he added.
The United States imposed sanctions this week on PDVSA and six other companies -- including firms from Singapore and Israel -- that it accused of supplying gasoline and petroleum products to Iran.
The action came as part of efforts to squeeze Tehran's energy sector in order to slow its nuclear enrichment program, which the West says is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
Washington has imposed sanctions against 16 other foreign entities and individuals, including from China, over trade with Iran, Syria and North Korea that may contribute to weapons of mass destruction or missiles.
Earlier this week, Venezuela voiced its "utmost rejection" of what it called the "hostile" US sanctions imposed on PDVSA.
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said he would need to evaluate the real effect of the US measure before determining what might be an appropriate reprisal.
The South American OPEC member exports around a million barrels of oil a day to the United States despite Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez's hardline anti-US rhetoric and frequent accusations of American "imperialism."
Venezuela produces 3.1 million barrels of crude per day, according to official figures. OPEC puts the figure at 2.32 million barrels per day.