Agreement between Iran and South Korea regarding billions of dollars frozen

South Korea and Iran have agreed to take steps that would pave the way for the release of billions of dollars in oil-related funds, Seoul reported Tuesday, but indicated that the deal would need Washington's approval.

Last month, Tehran detained an oil tanker flying the South Korean flag in the Gulf waters, pointing to its "repeated violation of marine environmental laws."

The seizure of the tanker came after Tehran urged Seoul to release billions of dollars of Iranian assets frozen in South Korea under the sanctions imposed by Washington on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.

According to the South Korean Foreign Ministry, the governor of Iran's central bank reached an agreement with the Seoul ambassador in Tehran.

The ministry said in a statement that "Iran agreed to our proposals on the use of the funds," without providing details.

And there were hints that the money could be used to buy vaccines against the Corona virus or pay off Iran's debts at the United Nations.

But the South Korean ministry added that "consultations will have to be made with the relevant authorities, including the United States, in order to effectively lift the funds freeze."

The statement suggests that the final decision on any transfers will be for Washington, which insists that Iran should take the first step in resolving the dispute over its nuclear program.

The Iranian government issued a separate statement on the deal, in which the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Abdel Nasser Hemmati, said Tehran would continue to demand compensation from South Korean banks.

He said, according to what was quoted by "IRNA" that the South Korean side should "make more efforts to remove this negative background."

Tehran was a major supplier of oil to resource-poor South Korea until Washington banned purchases.

In 2018, US President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal from the nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, and later re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

According to Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei, Tehran has sums of money amounting to seven billion dollars withheld in Seoul.

Tehran has repeatedly denied any link between the seizure of the ship and the release of the funds, and said earlier this month that it had agreed to allow the crew to leave in a "humanitarian move."


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