The US is preventing Iranian energy projects from supplying oil to Lebanon, claimed Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, chief of Hezbollah, in a televised speech on Tuesday, January 17. This oil, he said, could have provided relief to millions of Lebanese suffering from lack of electricity and fuel.
Speaking at the award ceremony of the Soleimani International Prize for Resistance Literature, Nasrallah noted that all of Lebanon is suffering from the energy crisis, “whose repercussions are affecting the economy and the people’s daily lives,” Al-Mayadeen reported.
Nasrallah claimed that Hezbollah had initiated talks with Iran to get oil, as per decisions made by the government. Iran had agreed to provide oil to Lebanon, and while the “Iranian offer is still on the table,” the US is “preventing the offer from being carried out,” he said.
Lebanon has been unable to import enough oil and gas as it faces an unprecedented economic crisis since 2019. Due to the lack of fuel, electricity production has been severely hampered, resulting in an acute power crisis, with most Lebanese people receiving less than two hours of daily power supply. The shortage has also impacted the overall economic recovery of the country.
Lebanon had signed an energy deal with Egypt last year, however, it has not been enough to address its energy crisis, especially after new conditions imposed by the World Bank. The US sanctions on Syria have also impeded oil supply.
Nasrallah claimed that Iranian fuel could help Lebanon deliver at least four hours of power supply every day for six months, and would address the ongoing fuel shortage and power crisis to a great extent.
He added that Iranian fuel could reach the country more quickly if Lebanese factions close to the US were able to garner exemptions for this purpose.
“We have an opportunity to solve the fuel crisis, and you, America’s allies, must benefit from your relationship with the US to bring an exception for Lebanon to receive the Iranian fuel,” Nasrallah said.
The US imposed strict unilateral sanctions on the export of Iranian oil following its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal—in 2018. It has also imposed automatic sanctions on countries or firms involved in such trade.
However, despite the sanctions, Iran had been able to supply some oil to Lebanon in 2021 through Syria. There were reports that a convoy of trucks carrying Iranian oil to Lebanon was attacked by the US air force in Syria in November last year, resulting in large-scale destruction and the deaths of dozens of people.
In September last year, Iran had offered over 600,000 tonnes of gasoline to Lebanon for five months and at no cost. The US later issued warnings that Lebanon would be subject to sanctions even if it accepted Iranian oil as a gift.