The UN Security Council has authorized member states to board ships suspected of carrying oil from Libyan rebel-held ports. The decision follows the US seizure of a tanker with oil from a rebel zone in eastern Libya.
The 15-member UN Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution Wednesday that "condemns attempts to illicitly export crude oil from Libya," and authorizes UN member states to board ships with contraband Libyan oil and return it to the government.
The decision comes just three days after US special forces seized a North Korean-flagged tanker off Cyprus. The vessel contained Libyan oil that a militia controlling the country's oil ports was trying to export in defiance of the government in Tripoli.
Militia commander Ibrahim Jedran and his fighters took over control of three Libyan oil terminals last summer to press for greater autonomy in the eastern half of the country. The group has since attempted to sell the oil.
The takeover has virtually shutdown Libya's previous production of 1.4 billion barrels a day crippling the OPEC member country's finances.
The government has given Jedran's group two weeks to clear out of the ports or face a military offensive to end the crisis.
In a statement, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power urged UN members to implement the resolution swiftly "to deter the actions of those who seek to steal Libyan oil."
"These enforcement measures signal to the people and government of Libya that the international community supports Libya's sovereignty and its right to manage its own natural resources," she said.
The tanker scandal led to the ouster of the country's Prime Minister Ali Zidan who lost a parliamentary vote of confidence on March 11 in light of the crisis.
Libya is still recovering from the 2011 revolution which led to the ouster and death of longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
hc/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)