iran 25 February 2021

Seoul says it will unfreeze Iranian funds, but in consultation with US

Iran has moved closer to unlocking billions of dollars in assets frozen in South Korea by US sanctions. Tehran says an agreement has been struck for the release of $1 billion and the Korean Foreign Ministry has said that the funds would be freed after consultations with the United States and other countries.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam told reporters in Seoul on Tuesday that talks in Tehran between the South Korean ambassador and the head of Iran’s Central Bank over the release of frozen Iranian funds had been positive.

‘The two sides inched closer on their opinions as the Iran side expressed consent to the proposals we have made,’ the official Yonhap news agency quoted the ministry spokesperson as saying. ‘The actual unfreezing of the assets will be carried out through consultations with related countries, including the United States,’ the Foreign Ministry said in a separate message quoted by the agency.

On Tuesday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati had reached preliminary agreements with the ambassadors of Japan and South Korea on the release of funds frozen under US sanctions.

‘It seems that, in a first step, about $1 billion of foreign resources of the Central Bank of Iran will be provided to us,’ Rabiei told a news conference in Tehran.

Iran has repeatedly demanded the release of some $7 billion in assets that it says remain frozen in South Korea.