Brazil’s state oil company denies fuel to 2 Iranian ships

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s state oil company has refused to supply two Iranian ships anchored in the southern port of Paraná because they belong to a company sanctioned by the United States.

According to a statement from Petrobras, the ships hired by an Iranian export company appear on a list of the U.S. government’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

“If Petrobras supplies the ships, it runs the risk of being sanctioned and included on the same list and suffer serious harm,” the statement said.

In addition, Petrobras said, the ships arrived from Iran transporting urea, which is subject to sanctions by the United States. Urea is used in manufacturing fertilizer, which is important for Brazil’s big agriculture sector, but it also is an ingredient for explosives.

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“Brazilian companies were warned by us of that problem (U.S. sanctions on Iran) and are at risk in that sense,” President Jair Bolsonaro said Friday when asked about the ships by journalists in Brasilia, the capital.

Bolsonaro noted that he is getting “increasingly” close to U.S. President Donald Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal with world powers last year and imposed economic sanctions on Tehran.

Iran is one of the main buyers of Brazilian agricultural products. The Tehran government has not publicly commented on the matter.

Petrobras said there were other fuel companies in Paraná that could supply the Iranian ships. It did not provide the name of the Iranian company that hired the vessels.

The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had limited its involvement to providing information to Petrobras.

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Associated Press journalist Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

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