BEIRUT (Dispatches) -- Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said a third shipment of Iranian fuel has been agreed to ease crippling shortages in Lebanon.
“We have agreed to start loading a third vessel,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech late Friday.
“The coming days will prove those doubtful about the shipments arriving with fuel wrong … and our words will be clear when the first vessel reaches Lebanon.”
Nasrallah had said last Sunday that the first vessel carrying Iranian fuel for Lebanon had already departed.
Pro-Western elements in Lebanon have warned of dire consequences from the purchase, saying it risked sanctions being imposed on a country which is already under a U.S.-led embargo.
Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said earlier on Friday in an interview with Saudi-owned Al Hadath television he was against anything that would harm Lebanon’s interests but asked critics of the Iranian fuel deals to provide help so that the country would not have to resort to them.
Nasrallah blamed the country’s economic crisis on an economic siege by the U.S. adding that so-called Caesar sanctions imposed by Washington on Syria had harmed Lebanon.
“Go ahead and give Lebanon an exemption for Iranian gasoline and diesel … go ahead and give Lebanon an exemption from Caesar,” Nasrallah said, addressing the U.S. in his speech.
Lebanon’s worsening fuel shortages reached a crunch point this month, threatening to bring daily life to a halt. The country’s economy has been in meltdown for nearly two years.
A senior Hezbollah official separately said Friday that Iran’s fuel shipments will thwart all plots that the United States has crafted against Lebanon.
The vice president of the executive council of Hezbollah, Sheikh Ali Da’moush, said his group is
utilizing all means at its disposal to address livelihood challenges facing Lebanese people and alleviate their suffering, stressing that the decision to import fuel from Iran is aimed at tackling the fuel supply crisis.
“Hezbollah’s decision to import diesel and gasoline from Iran was not politically-motivated, and does not fall within the context of political or factional bickering. It was rather a decision taken on humanitarian and moral grounds,” Sheikh Da’moush said.
He said, “Hezbollah can never accept the siege and starvation of the Lebanese nation. The resistance movement cannot remain indifferent in the face of the country’s collapse and humiliation of the entire nation.”
“The decision would of course have political repercussions, as it has basically broken the siege that the US has imposed on Lebanese people, and foiled all its attempts to starve and humiliate the nation,” he added.
Oil monitor TankerTrackers.com said an oil tankers had left Iranian waters on Thursday, while another was due to depart on Friday morning.
“The tanker that is laden with fuel for the power grid has departed today while the other one that is loading gasoline is anticipated to depart first thing tomorrow,” the monitor tweeted on Thursday, but later said the second one would likely depart on Saturday.
It added that the first tanker left port last week, but had only left Iranian waters on Thursday, due to a “very long coastline” and “departure protocols.”