South Korea releases $30 mln of Iranian funds for vaccine, drug purchases: Businessman
A senior Iranian businessman says South Korean financial authorities have accommodated the release of a tiny portion of Iranian funds that have been blocked in the country over alleged concerns about US sanctions.
According to Press TV, Hossein Tanhayi, who serves as the head of Iran-South Korea Joint Chamber of Commerce, said on Wednesday that only $30 million worth of Iranian funds in South Korea have been released for purchase of coronavirus vaccines and other medications.
Tanhayi said South Korea had promised as part of an agreement with Iranian government in February to help release at least $1 billion from around $7 billion of funds that have remained blocked in two South Korean banks since 2018.
“It had been agreed that $1 billion from the debt of this country be paid to Iran in cash but the agreement has yet to be implemented,” Tanhayi was quoted by IRNA.
Facing growing criticism from Tehran, South Korean authorities have sought to come up with a solution on how they can process payments from Iranian accounts in South Korea to help Iran pay for its international trade and basic goods purchases.
Banks in the East Asian country have resisted to process transactions from the accounts over concerns they could trigger heavy US penalties.
Former South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun was in Tehran earlier this month to follow up on the case amid meetings he held wit senior Iranian officials to expand economic and political ties between the two countries.
Tanhayi expressed hope that South Korea would start implementing the agreement on return of $1 billion of Iranian funds.
He said, however, that ongoing international talks in the Austrian capital Vienna that are meant to revive a 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program would play a role in facilitating the return of Iranian funds from South Korea.
“If the agreement is implemented the process for return of South Korea’s debts to Iran would streamline and accelerate,” said the businessman.