Iran's ceaseless efforts to get its frozen assets
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Tehran, Feb 28, IRNA -- A new chapter has been opened for Iran to pave the way for liberating its frozen assets following consultations have been made to urge South Korea, Japan, Iraq and Oman to unlock Iranian money.
Abdolnaser Hemmati, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, who hosted ambassadors of Japan and South Korea in order to find a way for liberating the Islamic country's frozen assets in recent days, told reporters on Wednesday that he is hopeful Seoul will implement the new agreement to unfreeze one billion dollars out of the seven billion dollars that South Korea must pay back to Iran.
The issue of Iranian officials attempting to unfreeze assets in other countries dates back to a few years ago, but the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposition of the so-called maximum pressure has turned it to an important matter for Iran. Now, a democrat administration is ruling the United States. It has promised to come back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); so, there are hopes that the Islamic Republic could access its own frozen assets in banks of other countries.
Some experts believe that recent developments regarding the unfreeze of Iranian assets from Korean banks are clues that the Biden administration is going to lift anti-Iran sanctions, but the new US government is still far from returning to the JCPOA, because Tehran is of the opinion that Washington's rejoining to the deal depends on complete lifting of the bans.
There are different reports and announcements on exact volume of South Korea's debt to Iran from six to over nine billion dollars, while Hemmati declared that Seoul must pay back seven billion dollars to Tehran.
Aside from the accurate figure of Iranian assets, the US plays a key role in freezing and unfreezing of the capital. Despite recent declarations on the release of the assets, South Korean Foreign Ministry announced that the unfreeze depends on Seoul's consultations with Washington.
South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported that Tehran put pressure on Seoul to release its assets, which are frozen in two Korean banks due to the US sanctions; so, South Korea is holding the White House to find a way to unfreeze the money, including through humanitarian trade with Iran.
The CBI governor also underlined that Iran showed the way to get rid of the lockdown and that the Koreans are responsible for returning Iranian money.
Korea Times reported early winter that Iranian assets will pay interest on the $7 billion and Seoul has not demanded any cost for the money, adding that the CBI can get the deposit and the interest following the lifting of the US sanctions.
Hemmati also held talks with Japanese ambassador to Tehran, urging Tokyo to show an initiative in providing Iran with an opportunity to access its own financial resources in Japan.
Aikawa Kazutoshi, Japan's Ambassador to Iran, suggested that Iran can use the frozen money to purchase corona vaccine.
Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Japan to stop implementing the United States' illegal decisions, expressing hope that Tokyo will take a proper step to unlock Iranian assets, which are reportedly less than $3 billion.
There are also some reports that Iraq must pay less than $2 billion to Iran, but the CBI governor mentioned that Iraq's total debt to Iran is around $5 billion.
One of the main objectives of Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein's today visit to Tehran is his country's debts to the Iran.
The CBI has kicked off negotiations with officials from Oman, Japan, Iraq and South Korea in a bid to pave the ground for returning of Iranian assets.
Some Iranian news outlets have reported that $7 billion of Iranian money is frozen in India.
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