According to a Yonhap report on January 21, a senior South Korean Foreign Ministry official said on the 21st that with the new U.S. government coming to power, he expected that the issue of South Korean ships being detained by Iran and frozen funds in South Korea and Iran will be resolved as soon as possible.
South Korea and Iran have obtained the approval of the U.S. Treasury Department to conduct transactions through the won accounts opened by the Central Bank of Iran in two banks in South Korea since 2010.
In May 2018, the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA) and blacklisted the Central Bank of Iran in the sanctions of the U.S. Treasury Department.
In order to avoid secondary boycott by the two banks by the United States, the South Korea side frozen the $7 billion held by the Central Bank of Iran in the won account. Iran recently asked the South Korean government to unfreeze funds for the purchase of drugs.
Some diplomats predict that the Biden administration has expressed its intention to return to the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan.
If the Biden government exercises flexibility in sanctions against Iran, the contradictions between Han and Iran over the frozen funds are expected to ease.
Senior foreign ministry officials pointed out that the freezing of Iranian funds is attributed to the United States sanctions, which need to be resolved through consultation between South Korea and the United States, and Iran’s requests for drugs and coronavirus test kits, as well as the detention of South Korean ships by Iran, are issues that can be resolved through dialogue and negotiation between South Korea and Iran.