The United States has reportedly agreed in principle to partial release of some $7 billion in Iranian assets that South Korean banks have frozen in line with Washington’s inhumane economic sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic.
South Korea’s official KBS World Radio station cited “a senior foreign ministry official” as making the remarks on Thursday.
Iran used to serve as a major oil supplier to South Korea until May 2018, when the United States returned the sanctions. Washington had the bans snap back into place after illegally and unilaterally leaving a historic nuclear agreement between Iran and other countries.
The official said under the agreement, which is yet to be finalized as Washington and Seoul were yet to see eye to eye on the method of transfer, the funds would be transferred to Switzerland first.
Previous reports showed that the two sides had discussed sending the money to the European country, from which it could be sent back to Iran via the so-called Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA).
Switzerland, which also represents the US’s interests in Iran, launched SHTA last February with the stated aim of helping humanitarian items reach Iran despite the sanctions. The mechanism ensures that Swiss-based exporters and trading companies in the food, pharmaceutical, and medical sectors have a secure payment channel with a Swiss bank.
It can, therefore, only provide the Islamic Republic with commodities rather than cash.
This is while Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati has asserted that the Islamic Republic only allowed South Korea to remit its outstanding debt in the form of direct payment. “Only money will come to our bank accounts,” he said on Wednesday.
The official also warned that Tehran reserved the right to take legal action against Seoul over its foot-dragging.