Yonhap quoted the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Iranian government on the 11th that Choi Jong-jian, the first official (vice minister) of the South Korean Foreign Ministry, met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghi in Tehran, the capital of Iran, on the 10th.
Fang held discussions on the seizure of the oil tanker “Korea Chemical” and the freezing of Iranian funds in South Korea, but failed to narrow the differences of opinion. South Korea’s Economy believes that concerns about the long-term development of events are expanding.
According to South Korean diplomatic sources, Choi Jong-kyung-jian gave priority to the arrest of South Korean tankers in the talks, and strongly demanded that Iran release the South Korean crew as soon as possible. Choi Jong-kyung said that Iran’s detention of South Korean tankers and crews was improper, and asked Iran to produce evidence of the pollution of the sea by Korean tankers.
South Korea Economy said that Iran once again claimed that the tanker was detained because of “environmental pollution”, but ignored the South Korean delegation’s request for relevant evidence. Choi Jong-kyung-kyung also said that the South Korean government will try to solve the problem of the freezing of Iraqi funds in South Korea.
According to a press release released on the website of the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 10th, Aragesh told Cui Zhongjian on the same day: “Avoid politicizing the incident, do not use futile public opinion propaganda, and solve them through legal means.” During the talks, Aragesh also highlighted the freezing of $7 billion in funds.
He criticized that Iran’s funds in South Korea were frozen more because of the lack of political determination of the South Korean side than the cruel sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran.” Only when this problem (the freezing of funds) is resolved will it make sense to enhance bilateral relations between Iran and South Korea. Iran said that the economic sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran are “an illegal and inhumane act of taking innocent Iranian nationals hostages”.
Iran has repeatedly asked South Korea to unfreeze the above assets. Abdnasir Khmati, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, has repeatedly mentioned in recent weeks that Iran hopes to withdraw $220 million from its accounts at South Korean banks to buy a coronavirus vaccine. He said on the 10th: “It’s natural for us to use this money.
Hopefully, the pressure from the United States will be reduced. According to Iran’s Meihr News Agency, officials of the Bank of Korea arrived in Iran with Choi Jong-kyin and discussed the frozen funds with Hemati on the 11th.
According to the report, the central bank of Iran has won accounts in Youli Bank and IBK Enterprise Bank in South Korea, with a total deposit balance of about $7 billion. The U.S. government once approved the Bank of Korea’s Youli Bank and IBK Enterprise Bank to open a won settlement account for goods transactions with Iran.
However, the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018 and added the Central Bank of Iran to the sanctions list. The transactions in the account were also forced to be interrupted, so the funds in the account were frozen.
The Financial Times quoted a statement from the U.S. State Department on the 11th that the United States has “always made it clear” that sanctions do not target legitimate humanitarian transactions, including vaccine transactions.
In response to this slightly “obscure” statement, Kyle Ferrier, a researcher at the Korean Economic Research Institute, a US think tank, believes that the United States can send a clear and “outspoken” signal to Iran and its financial institutions that these transactions will not violate sanctions.” South Korea has no way to solve this problem by itself.
Ferrier told the Financial Times.