0332 GMT March 03, 2021
The Central Bank of Iran said it has reached an agreement with South Korea on the release of frozen Iranian assets in the East Asian country.
The Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati and South Korea’s Ambassador to Tehran Ryu Jeong-Hyun held a meeting at the request of the Korean Embassy, reaching an agreement on how to release and spend part of Iran’s assets blocked in South Korea, according to the CBI, Tasnim News Agency reported.
It said the two sides have come to an agreement on transferring the Iranian financial resources to certain destinations, as South Korea has been informed about the CBI’s decisions about the volume of the transactions and the destination banks.
The South Korean ambassador has reportedly expressed Seoul’s readiness to take whatever measures necessary to use all of Iran’s financial resources in South Korea “without any limits”.
The CBI chief has welcomed a shift in South Korea’s policy, saying, “Although the Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes a change in the stances of countries and increased cooperation, the bank’s legal actions to demand compensation for non-cooperation from the Korean banks in recent years will remain in place.”
The top Iranian banker has made it clear that South Korea should make a great deal of effort to make up for the negative attitude it had taken in the past.
Since 2019 when then US president, Donald Trump, ended the US sanctions waivers for South Korea to buy Iran’s oil, Tehran and Seoul have been at loggerheads over the latter’s blocking of some seven billion dollars of Iran’s cash assets, IFP reported.
Korea was one of the main purchasers of Iran’s oil after the nuclear agreement. It also turned into the largest buyer of Iran’s oil derivatives and gas at the same time. However, after souring the ties, they lost access to Iran’s oil and also the country’s large market for their products.
Earlier, the South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister visited Iran and held talks with the country’s top officials. His visit raised hopes that after the end of Trump’s era Tehran and Seoul could mend ties again.
Talks with Japan envoy
Hemmati also held talks with Japanese Ambassador to Tehran Kazutoshi Aikawa.
The CBI governor urged Japan to cooperate regardless of political pressure and take an initiative and help Iran transfer its fund.
The envoy, for his part, pledged to improve the relations between the two countries’ banks in an effort to settle the issue.
Last week, Iran's foreign minister called on Japan to unfreeze Iran’s assets blocked in Japanese banks due to the US sanctions, and also persuade newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden to lift the bans imposed on Iran.
Speaking in an interview with Kyodo News, Mohammad Javad Zarif called Japan an old friend of Iran and noted its good relations with the United States, Press TV reported.
"We expect Japan to act as a friend, particularly when it comes to international law,” Zarif said, referring to the illegal nature of the US sanctions.
"Since the United States is violating international law, the best role that Japan can play is to show Americans that Japan will not implement their illegal decisions," he said.
Zarif specifically called on Japan to unfreeze Iranian assets frozen in Japanese banks due to US sanctions, as a gesture to Iran by the new government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who came to power last September.
According to Zarif, frozen assets in Japan and South Korea total close to $10 billion. Japan's share – mainly revenue from crude oil exports to Japan – is estimated to be just under $3 billion.