Libya Authorizes Using Force against Tanker with North Korean Flag

The defense ministry for Libya issued orders to the military that authorizes the use of force if needed to stop a tanker that is North Korea flagged from loading oil that is sold by rebels that are seeking to circumvent the government of Tripoli, said state media Sunday.

The rebels have seized three big Libyan ports since the middle of last year, as they are demanding more of a share of revenues from oil and political autonomy. The tanker was received Saturday at a port in Es Sider on the volatile east coast.

The docking and subsequent loading of the crude breaks a blockade of seven months of key ports that export oil and is only one facet of a deepening rift in the country, which has struggled trying to control militias that aid in ousting former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, but maintained their arms and now are challenging the state’s authority.

Ali Zeidan the Prime Minister said Saturday that Libya would bomb the tanker if it attempted to leave the port, one of the largest terminals for exporting oil in Libya.

LANA the news agency operated by the state said the defense ministry issued orders to its military and had warned the owner of the tanker.

A spokesperson for the National Oil Corporations that is state-run and the protesters said the North Korea tanker was docked in the port. Local paper al-Wasat said $36 million of crude had been loaded.

The rebel’s leader is Ibrahim Jathran, the former commander with the group that was against Gaddafi, who was once in charge of a group paid by the country to protect its different facilities for petroleum, but then turned against the state and seized the port along with two others in August with a force of thousands.

Tripoli and Jathran have held some indirect talks, but the demand for more of a share of revenues from oil is a sensitive issue due to the government worrying of possible secession.

The navy in Libyan this past January fired upon a tanker that was Maltese flagged that the navy said attempted to load oil from the port in Es Sider.

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