0903 GMT March 04, 2021
Although negotiations are underway with South Korea on the payment of the country’s oil debts to Iran, Seoul has yet made no practical move in this regard.
The remarks were made by Hossein Tanhaei, the chairman of Iran and South Korea Chamber of Commerce, on Sunday, IRNA reported.
He added the South Korean side has made a number of promises about paying its arrears to Iran
Tanhaei noted that clearing the debts through goods barter has been a possible option since a long time ago, adding Iran has submitted a list of its needed products, primarily pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs, to South Korea.
Expressing hope that the negotiations between the two sides would soon produce favorable results, he said among the other products on Iran’s list are goods the trade of which is not sanctioned by the US, raw materials and factory equipment.
Tanhaei stressed that South Korea is willing to settle its debts with Iran, noting that, in recent meetings between the two countries, Seoul has sought ways to facilitate settling the debts or barter with Tehran.
South Korea, a former major customer of Iran’s oil, has frozen Iranian assets in its banks and refrains from paying for its oil imports. Seoul cites Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Iran as its pretext for not clearing its debts.
In May 2018, US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, under an executive order signed by its former president, Donald Trump, and reimposed its unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Mainly targeting Iran’s oil and banking sectors, the sanctions were part of the former US administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran aiming to bring Tehran to the negotiating table and hammer out a new nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. However, to Washington’s chagrin, the sanctions failed to produce the desired result thanks to Iranian people’s resistance.
A few weeks ago, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official announced that Tehran was negotiating with Seoul on using the frozen assets for purchasing COVID-19 vaccines.
A few weeks ago, South Korea’s vice foreign minister, Choi Jong-kun, visited Iran and met with a number of Iranian officials. In his meeting with Kamal Kharrazi, the president of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, he said Seoul is determined to expand cooperation with Iran and regrets the unwanted problems besetting the two countries’ relations.
He stressed the importance of ties between Iran and South Korea, expressing hope that by resolving the problems, the two countries would take effective steps toward the sustainable development of relations with each other.
According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korea owes $9.2 billion to Iran.