* Financial sanctions freezing bank finances
* Cargoes diverted at loss to new buyers - trade
By Jonathan Saul and Michael Hogan
LONDON/HAMBURG, March 6 Grain ships
stranded outside Iran's main food cargo terminal due to western
sanctions have been diverted to new destinations with no backlog
left, trade sources said on Tuesday
In late January as much as 400,000 tonnes of grain were
being held up on 10 vessels mainly outside Bandar Imam Khomeini,
one of Iran's largest grain terminals, as EU sanctions froze the
assets of Iran's central banks and held up payments for
consignments, causing a trade finance squeeze.
Trader sources had said by the middle of February there were
around three vessels left as cargoes were diverted to new
buyers. Ships at the time had been held up for as long as three
AIS ship tracking data on Reuters showed there was only one
cargo vessel in the line up headed for the Iraqi port of Umm
"Everything seems now to have been resold. It has mostly
gone to other Gulf and Middle Eastern buyers," a European grain
"On feed grains, people are waiting to see how the sanctions
work before booking new cargoes. Transhipment though Iraq is
also being considered."
Another trade source said the remaining cargoes had been
sold to buyers in countries including Yemen, Sudan and Egypt.
"They were sold at a huge loss," the trade source said.
Traders said this week Iran's state grains agency the
Government Trading Corporation of Iran was in talks about buying
several hundred thousand tonnes of Russian and Indian wheat.
In the last month, the Islamic Republic has bought or tried
to buy nearly 3 million tonnes of wheat on fears the sanctions
will disrupt imports and cause bread shortages.
On March 1 the U.S. Agriculture Department revealed that
Iran had made a rare purchase of 120,000 tonnes of U.S. wheat in
an effort to build food stockpiles as the United States and
Europe implement tough new sanctions to contain Tehran's
disputed nuclear programme.
Food shipments are not targeted under western sanctions.
Nevertheless targeted financial measures have meant Iranian
firms have been frozen out of much of the global banking system
making it tough to obtain letters of credit or conduct
international transfers of funds through banks.
(Editing by William Hardy)