A man loads steel at a port. Picture: REUTERS
A man loads steel at a port. Picture: REUTERS

Moscow/London — Russia and Kazakhstan are cutting back sales of hot-rolled steel coils to Iran partly because of new US sanctions on Tehran, steel traders said.

The development shows that, despite protests from the Kremlin that unilateral US sanctions should not affect Russian companies, the firms are changing their behaviour for fear of falling foul of US sanctions.

Imports of Russian and Kazakh hot-rolled steel coils, used in industries from pipes and cars to agricultural equipment, make up only a small part of Iranian consumption and can be replaced. The imports were already slowing before sanctions because of low prices and weak demand, but the US sanctions have accelerated the slowdown, traders said.

The coils are shipped to Iran by Russian steel makers Severstal and MMK along with ArcelorMittal’s plant in Temirtau, Kazakhstan.

Arcelor "and the likes are cutting trade with Iran because of [US President] Donald Trump’s pressure on big companies", an Iranian trader said. Alex Agoureev, an adviser to Paramjit Kahlon, CEO of ArcelorMittal CIS, confirmed that the company planned to suspend supplies to Iran due to the US sanctions.

"Supplies to Iran will be temporarily suspended due to the sanctions. Once sanctions are lifted, the supplies will be resumed," Agoureev said.

Severstal and MMK declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Iranian ministry of industry, mines and trade also declined to comment.

In May, Trump pulled the US out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and promised to reimpose US economic sanctions on Iran. A number of European energy and financial groups have said they will end projects in Iran or suspend dealings with the country.

US measures due to kick in after a 90-day "wind-down" period ends on August 6 include sanctions on the purchase or acquisition of US dollars by the Iranian government, on Iran’s trade in gold and precious metals, and on the sale, supply and transfer to or from Iran of graphite.

Reuters