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Iran threatens Brazil as its ships await refueling

Published: Updated:

Brazil is the latest country which is at the receiving end of Tehran’s anger – an indicator of the pressure on the Iranian regime following the US sanctions.

Two Iranian ships, carrying Brazilian corn, have been unable to return home and been waiting off the Brazilian coast near the port of Paranagua for the past one month for refueling.

Petrobas, the semi-public sector oil major, has declined to supply fuel to the ships for fear of flouting US sanctions. The company has taken the stand that it was a commercial decision and that other firms could supply the fuel.

Tehran and Brazil have enjoyed good relations for long but the election of Jair Bolsonaro as President - a staunch supporter of US President Donald Trump - has meant that that the country’s external relations are being rewritten.

Bolsonaro has made it clear where his loyalties lie and had warned his country’s traders about dealing with Tehran.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Iran’ ambassador, Seyed Ali Saghaeyan, has now hit back and told Brazilian officials that Tehran could turn to other suppliers for the $2 billion in corn, meat, and sugar that it imports from Brazil.

At present, one-third of all corn produced in Brazil goes to Iran, with last year’s corn shipment witnessing a sharp spurt of 30 percent compared to 2017, even as the shipments of beef and sugar declined considerably.

Saghaeyan, the Iranian envoy, also told the press that he has told the Brazilian authorities “that they should solve the issue, not the Iranians.”

Otherwise, he said, “the authorities in Tehran may want to take some decision because this is a free market and other countries are available.”

Saghaeyan has not received an answer as yet to his request for a meeting with Brazil’s foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo.

To enable its ships to embark on its return journey, Iran may have to resort to costly and lengthy options of sending fuel to the Brazil coast.

On the other hand, Brazil’s foreign office said it was working with the court for a ruling on refueling the ships.