SINGAPORE, June 29 The head of Maersk Line
(MAERSKb.CO) on Wednesday raised concerns that U.S. sanctions
against a major Iranian port operator could disrupt food
shipments to the Islamic Republic.
Lawyers for the world's top container shipping firm were
reviewing whether it needed to alter its operations in Iran to
comply with last week's blacklisting of Tidewater Middle East Co
by the United States.
"One thing we are concerned about is that we carry a lot of
the reefer (refrigerated) cargo with food to Iran," Eivind
Kolding, chief executive of Maersk Line, told a news conference
"With a society that depends on this supply chain, it is
important it goes on somehow even if we have to interrupt our
The sanctions were expected to force shippers to avoid the
main container terminal at Bandar Abbas and other port
facilities managed by Tidewater Middle East, which Washington
suspects is run by the Revolutionary Guards, a U.S. Treasury
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday the sanctions,
which target two major segments of Iran's transport
infrastructure that the U.S. Treasury said were being used to
aid Iran's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, could
affect Russian companies and raise serious questions.
"We are of course very observant to the rules by the United
States and the EU about Iran and we really do our utmost to make
sure we are compliant," Kolding said.
"But it is not so easy to be in compliance because some of
the rules are quite open to interpretation."
For example, it was not clear whether Maersk would be in
compliance if it used European-flagged vessels at Iranian ports
instead of ships registered in the United States since the EU
has not blacklisted Tidewater.
Separately, Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line
last week suspended its direct voyages to Bandar
A spokesman said it stopped the service for commercial
reasons and not because of the U.S. sanctions.
(Reporting by Randy Fabi; Editing by Ramthan Hussain)