Oil firms in Beirut or­dered to stop fu­el­ing Iran air­lines

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE - By Joseph Haboush

BEIRUT: In­ter­na­tional oil com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing at Beirut’s air­port have been warned against fu­el­ing air­lines that are af­fected by the re­cent U.S. sanc­tions against Iran, Le­banese of­fi­cials told The Daily Star Fri­day.

Asked if Ira­nian air­lines would be pro­hib­ited from stop­ping at the air­port, care­taker Trans­port Min­is­ter Youssef Fe­ni­anos, said, “To stop? No. To refuel? By sanc­tions, yes.”

A se­nior air­port of­fi­cial said in­ter­na­tional oil com­pa­nies were no­ti­fied af­ter Wash­ing­ton reim­posed sanc­tions on Iran Mon­day to force Tehran to rene­go­ti­ate the 2015 nu­clear agree­ment and to end what it called the spon­sor­ing and fi­nanc­ing of ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity.

Th­ese mea­sures mean that bod­ies deal­ing with the sanc­tioned Ira­nian en­ti­ties would be pe­nal­ized.

The air­port of­fi­cial said “some” of the oil providers were in­formed by in­ter­nal com­pany de­ci­sions, but Fe­ni­anos con­firmed that none of the providers would be al­lowed to refuel the sanc­tioned car­ri­ers. The de­ci­sion has been made “for sure by their com­pa­nies,” not by the Le­banese gov­ern­ment, Fe­ni­anos added.

Lo­cal me­dia re­ports iden­ti­fied the oil com­pa­nies that were no­ti­fied as Liquigaz, Co­ral Oil, To­tal and W-H-Elfmed. The Daily Star could not in­de­pen­dently con­firm which com­pa­nies were af­fected.

Ac­cord­ing to the air­port of­fi­cial, this step is “very small [com­pared] to what may come.” The source de­scribed the com­ing sanc­tions as pos­si­bly hav­ing an ef­fect on “more than just oil” re­fu­el­ing at the air­port.

The air­port’s Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity has not yet been of­fi­cially no­ti­fied of the new sanc­tions and will with­hold tak­ing a stance un­til it is. “This needs to be stud­ied and a de­ci­sion needs to made on a na­tional level in co­or­di­na­tion with

the gov­ern­ment,” the air­port of­fi­cial said.

Fe­ni­anos con­firmed that the gov­ern­ment “didn’t make [its] de­ci­sion yet” on whether or not to en­sure the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new sanc­tions.

The min­is­ter said the gov­ern­ment is “study­ing all the cir­cum­stances. It’s not easy at all, we have so many points to dis­cuss and lots of opin­ions.”

How­ever, the air­port source de­nied that air­port au­thor­i­ties were or­dered to refuse re­quests to refuel all Ira­nian planes. “Only the air­lines on the sanc­tions list are the ones be­ing cau­tioned against,” the air­port source said.

Rafik Hariri In­ter­na­tional Air­port Le­banon’s only func­tion­ing pas­sen­ger air­port has been at the cen­ter of con­tro­versy, with Is­raeli and Amer­i­can news out­lets claim­ing that Hezbol­lah and Iran smug­gle arms and com­po­nents for con­struct­ing weapons into Le­banon via the air­port.

A Fox News re­port al­leged that on July 9, a Boe­ing 747 left Tehran and took an “un­char­ac­ter­is­tic flight path,” stop­ping in Da­m­as­cus be­fore con­tin­u­ing on to Beirut, where it landed “shortly af­ter 4 p.m. lo­cal time.” The re­port cited the flight-track­ing smart­phone app Fligh­tRadar24 and Google Maps to sup­port its claim. Le­banon’s Direc­torate-Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion later con­firmed that Boe­ing 747s had trav­eled from Tehran to Da­m­as­cus and Beirut, but said they were cargo flights that then con­tin­ued on to Doha.

Fox News also claimed a flight car­ried out the same op­er­a­tion on Aug. 2, but the DGCA said that that plane, too, had landed in Beirut from Tehran “empty” and took off “filled with live­stock af­ter ap­proval from Qatari civil avi­a­tion au­thor­i­ties.”

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