South Korea releases $30m of Iran’s blocked money

April 21, 2021 - 15:21

TEHRAN - Hossein Tanhaei, head of the Iran-South Korea Joint Chamber of Commerce, said on Wednesday that South Korea has released $30 million of the Islamic Republic’s frozen oil money in the Asian country to be used for purchasing COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Tanhaei, South Korea had reached an agreement with Iran on releasing $1 billion of the mentioned frozen funds but so far only a small portion of this agreement has been realized.

The official underlined the significance of the negotiations on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for the return of the country’s blocked resources in other countries, saying: “If the negotiations reach an agreement, the process of repaying South Korea's debt to Iran will be facilitated and accelerated.”

Iran and South Korea appear to be moving toward settling the thorny issue of Iran’s assets after a few rounds of failed negotiations in January. They are eager to find a solution to the issue. Over the past few months, both of them had proposed a number of solutions none of which broke the deadlock over the assets.

Back in January, Tanhaei had announced that the Islamic Republic was going to negotiate to barter its $7 billion of frozen oil money in South Korean banks for the COVID-19 vaccine and other basic goods.

“Yesterday, we had a meeting with First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri about our country's blocked money in South Korea, and suggestions were made to be presented to South Korea on how to barter our money in this country with a variety of goods including COVID-19 vaccine,” Tanhaei told ILNA on January 3.

During his visit to Iran in January, Jong-kun met with Iran’s central banker to discuss how to release the Iranian assets. According to Iranian media, the South Korean diplomat proposed to provide Iran with ambulances and coronavirus test kits using Iran’s assets, but Iran rejected the offer, saying that it wants to use the money to purchase foods and medicines. Iran also said that the Korean proposal did not include the release of all Iran’s frozen assets.

With the negotiations still going on, Tehran and Seoul seem to be in the final stage of resolving the assets issue given South Korea’s close contacts with the Biden administration, which has promised to rekindle diplomacy with Iran by reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the JCPOA.

EF/MA

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