May 28, 2024

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Release of Iranian money in South Korea underway: Foreign Ministry

TEHRAN – The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying the process to release $6 billion worth of Iran’s funds that have been illegally frozen in South Korea under the pretext of U.S. sanctions is underway.

The statement followed the emergence of news across various media outlets that Iran and the U.S. have reached a prisoner swap deal that also includes the release of Iranian funds. 

“Iran has received the necessary guarantee for the United States’ commitment to its obligations in this regard,” the statement said, according to Press TV.

The ministry said the funds had been “illegally blocked” under the pretext of “overseas banks’ concerns about America’s oppressive sanctions.” 

It is up to “the Islamic Republic and competent Iranian authorities” to determine the manner of application of the unfrozen funds, it said.

According to reports, the release of the funds has been agreed upon as part of a prisoner exchange deal between Tehran and Washington, in line with which each side would hand over several prisoners to the other.

The statement said that the ministry has, in addition to unfreezing the funds, been pursuing the release of the Iranian prisoners as part of its “inherent duties.”

It said the prisoners had been arrested and held across American jails “illegally and under the vain pretext of [their] bypassing of the U.S. oppressive sanctions.”

A source told the official IRNA news agency on Thursday that Iran has managed to secure the release of more than 10 billion worth of funds that have been illegally blocked in South Korea and Iraq for several years because of US sanctions.

The source said the release of the funds under the deal includes $6 billion worth of assets blocked in South Korea as well as a “significant amount of Iranian funds held in the Trade Bank of Iraq”.

The statement said the funds in South Korea had already been changed into euro in a bank in Switzerland and were ready to be transferred to an account in the central bank of Qatar as agreed under the prisoner swap deal with the U.S.

The source confirmed reports that the prisoners had been transferred “to a place outside prison” for the purpose of exchange, adding, however, that they would not be freed until the funds were transferred to accounts designated by Iran.

It came after reports by U.S. media outlets including the New York Times and the CNN quoted sources as saying that Washington will allow the transfer of nearly $6 billion of Iran’s assets in South Korea to an account in the central bank of Qatar where Iran can use them for purchases of food and medicine.

They said the U.S. will also release several Iranian prisoners as part of the deal which will see Iran free five American prisoners.

They claimed that four of the prisoners had been already released from a prison in Tehran into house arrest. The report said the fifth American prisoner was already under house arrest in the country.

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