US warns Lebanon of sanctions if it accepts Iranian gift of fuel following airstrikes on convoy

US warns Lebanon of sanctions if it accepts Iranian gift of fuel following airstrikes on convoy
The US has warned Lebanon that it could be subjected to sanctions if it accepts a gift of fuel from Iran, one day after a strike in Syria on an Iranian convoy reportedly carrying fuel to Iran.
2 min read
10 November, 2022
Lebanon has suffered fuel shortages as a result of its ongoing economic crisis [Getty]

The US warned Lebanon on Wednesday against accepting free gifts of fuel from Iran, telling the crisis-hit country that it could be subject to US sanctions if it goes ahead with the importation of Iranian oil.

The warning came as Iran accused the US of bombing a convoy of Iranian tankers in Syria carrying fuel to Lebanon. Fifteen people were reportedly killed in the strike.

Lebanese media reported that the US had informed Prime Minister Najib Mikati that free gifts of fuel from Iran were subject to US sanctions.

A US legal firm told the Lebanese government that the country must apply for a special exemption in order to import the fuel and not be subject to sanctions, according to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar news website, but that the US had no intention of agreeing to this.

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Iran in September said that it was prepared to provide Lebanon with 660,000 tons of gasoline in order to ease electricity cuts in the crisis-hit country.

According to Al-Akhbar, US officials had previously said that sanctions on Iran applied only to purchases, not gifts, and that there would be no problem if Lebanon received the Iranian gift.

However, US officials later changed their mind, according to Al-Akhbar. The previous reassurance was made when Lebanon was still involved in US-mediated negotiations to demarcate maritime borders with Israel. The deal was signed last month.

If the transaction had gone ahead, it would have marked the first time that the Lebanese state had directly imported fuel from Iran.

However, Iran had previously sent much smaller quantities of fuel to Lebanon via its Lebanese proxy militia Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah previously warned that the US would not allow Iranian fuel to reach Lebanon.