UNITED NATIONS, March 19 The U.N. Security
Council on Wednesday authorized nations to board ships suspected
of carrying Libyan oil from rebel-held ports, days after U.S.
naval forces seized an oil-laden tanker that sailed from a rebel
zone in chaotic eastern Libya.
Libyan rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran and the central
government are locked in a long-running standoff over a blockage
of three oil ports Jathran's men took over in the summer to
press for eastern autonomy and a greater share of oil revenues.
The Tripoli government has given Jathran's group, which has
attempted to export oil on its own, two weeks to clear the ports
or face a military offensive to end the port blockage, which has
crippled the OPEC country's finances.
The 15-nation U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a
legally binding resolution that "condemns attempts to illicitly
export crude oil from Libya" and authorizes U.N. member states
to board ships with contraband Libyan oil and return the crude
to the government.
It gives states that confront a suspected rebel oil tanker
the right "to carry out ... inspections and direct the vessel to
take appropriate actions to return the crude oil, with the
consent of and in coordination with the Government of Libya, to
It also gives the Security Council's Libya sanctions
committee the authority to blacklist vessels that attempt to
transport Libyan oil against the wishes of the government.
Blacklisted vessels would be temporarily barred from
On Sunday, U.S. forces stormed a tanker that had made it as
far as the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus after loading crude
at the Es Sider port, one of three Jathran's men have occupied,
and eluding Libyan government forces offshore. The ship is on
its way back to a government-controlled port.
(Writing by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and