A senior US official has warned about an apparent attempt by Libyan anti-government forces to sell crude oil to North Korea, saying that unauthorized oil sales in Libya are not permissible.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement on Sunday the US is deeply concerned by reports that a vessel is loading a cargo of illicitly obtained oil at Libya’s eastern port of Es Sider. The port is controlled by anti-government forces.
Psaki also said the oil belongs to the Libyan National Oil Company and its joint venture partners, including the United States.
She warned that any sales without authorization from these parties place purchasers at risk of penalties.
The warning came one day after Libyan and Western media reported that a tanker carrying a North Korean flag was spotted at Es Sider. A TV station run by anti-government forces reported that the rebels declared the start of oil exports, bypassing the central government.
Militia groups have been expanding their power bases across Libya since the government of Muammar al-Qadhafi collapsed 3 years ago. Some groups have taken control of oil-producing regions.
The country’s interim government says oil exports by opposition groups is illegal and warns that it may attack the tanker.