Tehran warns Seoul over freezing its oil money

July 17, 2020 - 19:35

TEHRAN — Iran has warned South Korea over its “unacceptable” move to block the Islamic Republic’s oil revenue.

Vice-Speaker of the Parliament, Amir-Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi, on Friday expressed regret that Seoul is blocking the Iranian people’s oil money due to the U.S. pressure.

Iranian authorities have been pressing South Korea to release between $6.5 billion and $9 billion in frozen funds so that Tehran could use them for purchase of basic goods.

Qazizadeh Hashemi described the move as a “rude” behavior, saying it shows South Korea is not committed to any ethical or legal principle, Press TV reported.

South Korea is violating another nation’s rights under the pressure of the U.S. bullies, he said.

He urged the Iranian Foreign Ministry to actively pursue the return of the Iranian money.

Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Tehran has already given an official warning to Seoul over the frozen assets.

South Korea is citing the U.S. sanctions as an excuse for not releasing Iran's money, Mousavi told a press briefing in the city of Ardabil in northwestern Iran.

However, he added, relations between South Korea and the U.S. have nothing to do with Iran.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a meeting with Iranian parliamentarians that countries like South Korea have not responded positively to Iran’s repeated requests for release of funds that have reportedly been blocked because of the U.S. pressure.

“Some countries like Oman and China have acted positively on return of these funds but South Korea has not taken any significant action in this regard,” said Zarif, according to remarks published by Iranian parliament’s news service.

Zarif said South Korean government claims it has “certain problems” in transferring the money it owes to Iran mainly because of the U.S. sanctions.

“On the one hand, we are negotiating for the return of the blocked funds and on the other, there has been some proper legal actions,” said the top Iranian diplomat without elaborating on what legal path Iran has taken to secure the release of funds.

Business sources said last week that Seoul had agreed to allow Iran use part of the funds for purchases of drugs and medical equipment.

Iran is struggling to return the funds frozen by foreign banks amid a shortage of hard currency in the country which has been contending with the coronavirus pandemic over the past months.

Earlier this month, the Chairman of Iran-South Korea Joint Chamber of Commerce Hossein Tanhaei announced that the Asian country has agreed to unblock part of Iran’s frozen money which is kept by Seoul due to the U.S. sanctions.

“Based on the agreement with the Korean side the money is not going to be returned in cash but in the form of medical and pharmaceutical items,” Tanhaei said.

MH/PA

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