September 24, 2023

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Parliament to support government in releasing funds: MP

TEHRAN – Iranian lawmaker Asghar Salimi has said that the Parliament will support the Ebrahimi Raisi government in its efforts to release the Iranian money frozen in South Korean Banks. 

Salimi said $7 billion in Iranian oil revenues were blocked in South Korean banks in the wake of the 2018 withdrawal of the Trump administration from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

“In recent years, various measures were taken to release Iran’s blocked assets in South Korea, but due to some malfunctions, Iran’s currency resources are still blocked in this country. The government’s action in developing a bill to protect the rights of the Iranian people is a worthy thing. The Parliament also supports the government in this field so that Iran’s funds are released as soon as possible,” Salimi told IRNA.

The lawmaker was referring to the recent bill that the Raisi administration ratified and referred to the Parliament for the purpose of observing legal formalities. 

In a letter dated July 22, President Raisi referred the bill to the Speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf. 

The bill, officially called “the Referral of Dispute between the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Government of the Korean Republic for Arbitration,” was ratified by the cabinet of ministers on July 5, according to Tasnim.

Salimi described South Korea as a country that strictly follows the U.S. 

“In order to maintain its relations with other countries, South Korea must act independently in the field of economic exchanges and not register a bad historical record in its relations,” he said. 

The lawmaker continued, “Iran is one of the powerful countries in the West Asian region, which can be influential in international equations, and such issues cause problems in communication between Tehran and Seoul.”

Salimi called on South Korea to hold talks with the U.S. to secure the release of the Iranian funds. “Considering that South Korea has more connections with the United States, it can resolve the obstacles in negotiations with the United States and pay the debt of the Iranian government,” he suggested. 

Iran’s Vice President for Legal Affairs Mohammad Dehghan has said that Tehran will spare no legal efforts to force South Korea into unfreezing the funds. 

“With the consideration of the mutual agreement for promotion and protection of investment between the two countries, the legal office of the presidency will spare no legal efforts to return the nation’s properties,” Dehghan said in a post on the domestic social media platform Virasty on Saturday, according to Tasnim. 

Dehghan said, however, that despite the legal measure initiated by Iran, the path will still be open to secure the release of the funds in South Korea through political channels, Press TV reported.

The financial dispute between Iran and South Korea dates back to 2018, when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA, and started slapping economic sanctions on Iran based on the “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. Before 2018, South Korea was the third-largest buyer of Iranian oil and the top customer of Iranian condensates. The oil trade between Tehran and Seoul resulted in the accumulation of some $7 billion in Iranian oil revenues in South Korean banks.

With tensions between Tehran and Washington exacerbating, Seoul moved to block the Iranian funds for fear of falling afoul of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The move irked Iran, which continued to demand that South Korea release the frozen funds. In a bid to get its funds, Iran held several rounds of talks with South Korea some of which were within the framework of the broader talks between Iran and the West. But the talks have so far failed to yield a result. 

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