Iranian cargo ships in Lebanese waters have been prevented from docking and unloading over fears the move may lead to the extension of US sanctions onto the Mediterranean state, according to a report by Al-Hurra.
The imports include foodstuffs, medicine and fuel, among other items and are intended to help alleviate the deteriorating living standards in Lebanon as the country faces its worst economic crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990.
However, accepting the imports, which can reportedly be exchanged for local goods or paid for in local currency, rather than dollars, could violate UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, and lead to the imposition of US sanctions on Lebanon.
Legally, the report quotes Shafiq Al-Masri, an international law professor, as saying, Lebanon can conduct trade with Iran “except what is covered by the sanctions issued by the UN Security Council”.
Adding that “Lebanon is committed to Resolution No. 1929 (sanctions on Iran over nuclear proliferation and uranium enrichment) issued by the Security Council under Chapter Seven, and the previous international laws.”
While, economics expert Walid Abu Suleiman, warned US sanctions could be ruinous for Lebanese entities. Abu Suleiman was quoted as citing the Jamal Trust Bank which was “closed by the stroke of a pen” after the US imposed sanctions on the organisation, as an example.
The move comes after Iran said the state was ready to supply Lebanon with fuel sent on ships, similar to the Islamic Republic’s trade deal with Venezuela.
The local currency, the Lebanese lira, has lost more than 80 percent of its value since October and is now trading at approximately 9,000 lira to $1. While power outages have become increasingly frequent amid soaring food prices and unemployment.