| SEOUL, June 11
SEOUL, June 11 South Korean container shippers
are joining a wave of their international peers in giving up on
Iranian business ahead of new U.S. sanctions in July, adding to
pressure on Tehran's vital seaborne trade.
South Korea's government said the country's top two
shippers, Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd and Hyundai
Merchant Marine Co Ltd, had ended direct shipments
to Iran in May, with the Middle Eastern nation's economy already
reeling from measures imposed by the West to curb its nuclear
Hyundai Merchant will also cease so-called trans-shipments
of freight ultimately destined for or originating in Iran from
June 15, while Hanjin halted such business on June 8, the
marine, energy, finance and foreign affairs ministries said in a
joint statement on Tuesday.
Hanjin and Hyundai Marine, the only two South Korean
shippers that had been dealing with Iran, both confirmed the
government statement, saying they were cooperating in efforts
against Iran's nuclear programme.
Tehran denies its atomic programme is aimed at building a
bomb, but sceptical Western nations have become increasingly
The U.S. National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which
comes into effect on July 1, blacklists Iran's shipping,
shipbuilding, energy and port management sectors.
While it has an explicit exemption for food, medicine and
other humanitarian goods, foreign shipping firms are pulling out
to avoid falling foul of its provisions.
The Korean ministries said exports to Iran, which mainly
come from small- and medium-sized firms, would drop sharply from
July as it gets harder to find ships.
The ministries did not give details on the size of the
expected fall, but said that South Korea exported $6.26 billion
of goods to Iran last year - mainly steel products, car parts
and electronic goods.
Asia's fourth-largest economy, a major buyer of Iranian
crude oil, last week received a six-month extended waiver on
Iran sanctions from the U.S. State Department in exchange for
agreeing to reduce purchases of oil from Tehran.
South Korean refiners have been importing Iranian crude via
ships provided by Iran.