Iranian Ships Stranded in Brazil Without Fuel

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"Brazilian companies were warned by us of that problem (US sanctions on Iran) and are at risk in that sense", President Jair Bolsonaro said when asked about the ships by journalists in Brasilia, the capital. The Bavand was loaded up with 50,000 tons of corn and the Termeh is supposed to take on another 66,000 tons.

Carrying food back to Iran is legal under USA sanctions and Iran buys a great deal of corn from Brazil, but unfortunately for the Iranian captains, the Petrobras subsidiary that sells maritime fuel in Brazilian ports cited the US sanctions and refused to refuel the ships.

The Iranian ships are stuck at Brazilian ports since no one is able to intermediate the sale of bunker fuel for them, a fertilizer trader with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

According to Reuters, ships sailing under the Iranian flag usually carry enough fuel for their return journey, but these two ships do not have enough fuel to leave Brazil.

Brazil's port authority says the ships are loaded with maize, which as a foodstuff is not subject to US sanctions against Iran.

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Petrobras, for its part, fears that it could become a target of secondary USA sanctions if it or any of its subsidiaries were to deal with Iran-flagged ships.

The last-resort solution would be Iran sending a ship with fuel from Iran to refuel the ships carrying corn, highlighting the extent to which the US sanctions hit the Islamic Republic's trade and economy.

Petrobras has refused to provide fuel "to the exporting company because the Iranian vessels it contracted and the Iranian company that owns those vessels are sanctioned by the United States", the company said in a statement without identifying the exporter.

"The case comes at a time when relations between Brazil and the USA are at their closest, with president Jair Bolsonaro seeking deeper ties with the country government by Donald Trump", the Rio Times added.

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