* Wheat Board head says often sells wheat to Iran
* Wheat Board head won't comment on story of wheat sale
* Sanctions would make an Iran deal complicated
By David Ljunggren
BEIJING, Feb 9 The head of the Canadian
Wheat Board on Thursday declined to comment on whether the board
might be planning to sell wheat or barley to Iran, but added
that "we sell wheat to Iran when they need it".
Chief Executive Officer Ian White told Reuters: "We've often
sold wheat to Iran and right now I wouldn't be able to comment
on whether there's much going or not."
White made his remarks when asked about an article in a U.S.
industry newsletter which said the board was talking to the
Canadian government about a possible sale to Iran.
White, speaking on the sidelines of a Canada-China trade
conference in Beijing, said Iran generally entered the market
"when they have a bad crop".
Trade with Iran is becoming increasingly difficult because
of sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union
over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, which Iran
insists is only for peaceful purposes.
Asked whether the sanctions would complicate a possible sale
to Iran, White said: "The Iranians pay promptly but obviously
we'd have to look at all the factors associated with it".
Iran imports around 4.5 million tonnes of grain a year,
including about 3.5 million tonnes of corn, which is mainly used
in animal feed.
Canada's federal Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz, who is
also in Beijing, was not immediately available for comment.
Canada's Conservative government is a strong ally of Israel
and has long had very poor relations with Iran, which it says is
a major threat to world peace.
U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill said on Wednesday it planned
to continue grain shipments to Iran despite signs the sanctions
were having an effect.
The U.S. and European Union sanctions target trade and
payments by the Iranian central bank. Bread prices in Iran have
tripled since December.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren)