The two Iranian vessels, one reportedly loaded with corn, were stranded at the port of Paranagua, unable to head back to Iran due to lack of fuel.
Iran is one of the largest grain importers from Brazil and the complication with the Iranian ships is already worrying Brazilian traders about the broader impact on trade with the Islamic Republic. Brazil has emerged as a new destination for petrochemical shipments from Iran which is tapping new markets to compensate for sliding oil sales.
Brazil's state oil company Petrobras has said the ships, Bavand and Termeh which had brought urea to Brazil, appeared on a list of US sanctions. The company says there are other fuel companies that can supply the Iranian ships, but it has an effective monopoly on refueling services at Brazilian ports.
President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday the Brazilian government has been alerting local companies about the extent of US sanctions on Iran, while he is working to forge a very close relationship with the United States.
Brazilian companies and government do heed the financial losses of violating the US sanctions and are afraid of the penalties that they would be given by Washington, but selling fuel to a ship to travel back home is not a big deal, indicating that far-right, populist President Bolsonaro's Trumpian interest surely plays a factor, otherwise, the government in Brasilia could easily handled the situation the same way that Germany did few months ago and when private sector firms declined to fuel an SDN-list designated Iranian passenger jet, the state company stepped forward and resolved the situation easily.
Yet, President Bolsonaro's administration needs to consider that this compliance may please the US president, but is for sure not enough to keep him pleased, specially considering that President Trump always wants more and is well known for his excessive demands from friends and foes, even NATO allies. Considering that these extra-territorial sanctions are illegal as they are not only outside the UN Chapter Seven, but also come in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that guaranteed the Nuclear Deal between Iran and the world powers - entailing a removal of the sanctions - aiding or obeying the US in this illegal re-imposition of the US unilateral sanctions against Tehran is not only complicity with this violation of international law, but also extend the practice of Washington's will and decisions to the land of Brazil, undermining Brasilia's independence and sovereignty. There are great doubts if Brazilians would ever agree to let the US decide for them as they know very well that this means an exercise of the US policy at the cost of Brazil.
Still, this won't be just a single case if Brazil means to keep Trump appeased, as the Latino nation will be required to respect hundreds of US sanctions rules not just against Iran, but also against a handful nations across the world from Russia, China, North Korea to Venezuela in the same neighborhood. In fact, the US has imposed sanctions on tens of nations, and continued compliance with this illegal US policy would not only usher in gravely weakening sovereignty and independence, but also incur billions of dollars in loss.
Meantime, Iran, a major energy supplier with a very lucrative market, is a key player in the world's heartland, the Middle-East. A brief look at the growth of Iran's regional power and presence and the fast spread of its allies across the nation in the last decade could easily portray the brilliant and lustrous prospects for Tehran's friends in the Middle-East market in ten years from now. Iran and Brazil have enjoyed age-old ties with great potentials for a rapid expansion of bilateral ties and cooperation. A needless complicity with Donald Trump's economic terrorism against Iranians is not something that would go unnoticed or forgotten. A simple cost-benefit calculus would leave no doubt that denying fuel to Iranian ships and keeping their sailors at bay for such a long time to give a moment of rejoice to the US president is not worth the huge costs as it would definitely damage the Tehran-Brasilia trade ties. For a nation whose people in a port city in the South-West identify themselves with Brazil as the dark-colored, football-crazy fans of the city sometimes bring Brazil's flag to their famous San'at-e Naft football club to "shout Abadan is a part of Brazil" it is hard to see the warm-blooded nation that they adore has now partnered in Trump's economic terrorism against them to keep their sailors from a journey back home. This comes as Brasilia could surely work a way out through consultations with the Iranian mission in the Latin state to easily evade the US sanctions. Apart from the financial and diplomatic losses, the Brazilian government would surely be forced to continue walking along the endless road of compliance with Trump's excessive demands - that are not limited to Iran - to keep him happy at the cost of their independence and sovereignty and huge financial losses as well as a growing loss of a part of their share in global markets, and still more importantly, deteriorating ties with regional influential actors that would not all be as far as Iran or Russia, but could also be as close as Venezuela and several other Latino nations like Mexico once it fails to please the US president with the Wall or stop the Caravan. Yet, with a capricious president like Donald Trump who has even despised and betrayed allied governments across the world, including Canada, President Bolsonaro may never rest assured that Trump could not turn his back on him any moment, while looking excessively a Trumpster would wear off his image as an independent politician and could cost him the future of his career in the next vote.