Under the 2015 JCPOA agreement, the United States and five other world powers agreed to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits to Tehran’s nuclear program. However, US announced in May it was withdrawing from the deal and would reimpose sanctions.

In view of this, Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd said it had initiated a process to stop handling products included in the list of commodities hit by US sanctions, within the required wind down timeline, according to Reuters. The company added it did not have any direct services handling Iran volumes of its own, but it used partners.

The group was awaiting further clarification as to what operations would be permitted after the wind-down period in order to take final decisions on whether to serve Iran.

Last month, the world's two largest container companies, Danish Maersk and Geneva-based MSC, said they were reviewing their Iran operations. MSC said it would stop taking new bookings for Iran, but would complete acceptable cargoes such as foodstuffs during the wind-down period.

Hapag-Lloyd, like the two other companies, services Iran via third-party feeder ships from the Jebel Ali hub in the UAE.

The US move is expected to have a significant impact in global shipping trade and oil market, as well as in Iran's tanker shipping industry.