Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs has taken to task the government of South Korea for illegally freezing the Islamic Republic’s assets over fear of the US sanctions, warning that Seoul should not submit to the extortionist policies of the White House.
Abbas Araqchi made the remarks in a Sunday meeting with South Korea’s visiting First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun, who arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, earlier the same day.
“For about two and a half years, South Korean banks have illegally frozen Iran’s foreign exchange assets over what they describe as fear of US sanctions. This measure, which is only due to submission to US extortionist policies, is not acceptable,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister said.
Araqchi added that further expansion of relations between Tehran and Seoul would be only possible in the event that this problem is solved.
He pointed to various rounds of unfruitful negotiations held recently between representatives from Tehran, particularly the Central Bank of Iran, and Seoul, saying, “We believe that Iran’s foreign exchange resources have been frozen in [South] Korea more due to lack of political will on the part of the South Korean government rather than the cruel sanctions by Washington.”
He urged the South Korean diplomat to help find necessary solutions to the issue and make it a main priority in relations between the two countries.
Iranian authorities have said on several occasions that they expect South Korea to do more on the release of nearly $8.5 billion blocked illegally in two South Korean banks under the pretext of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Araqchi also pointed to the South Korean diplomat’s demand for the release of a South Korean-flagged tanker impounded by the naval force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and said the ship has been seized just because of technical reasons and polluting the Persian Gulf waters.
He added that Iran’s Judiciary has launched investigations into the case, but recommended that South Korean officials to avoid politicizing the issue and allow a peaceful legal procedure to be carried out away from futile propaganda efforts.
The IRGC Navy said in a statement on January 4 that the tanker HANKUK CHEMI had departed from the Petroleum Chemical Quay in Saudi Arabia’s Jubail port before being impounded earlier in the day for polluting the Persian Gulf waters with chemicals.
The statement added that the ship, which carried 7,200 tonnes of ethanol, is now being held at Iran’s southern Bandar Abbas port city.