July 07, 2020 - A senior Iranian trade official said South Korea has agreed to unblock parts of Iran’s frozen money kept by Seoul due to the US economic sanctions.
Hossein Tanhaei, chairman of Iran-South Korea Chamber of Commerce, said the money will “not be return in cash” but maybe “in form of imports of drugs and medical items,” the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) reported on Tuesday.
“No talks have been held about returning the frozen money in cash but the second part of the money will possibly be unblocked in form of the gradual imports of foodstuffs and animal feed,” Tanhaei exclusively told ILNA.
He added he had no idea about the volume of the agreement, adding “It depends on our efforts, and I hope that with the coordination made by the Ministry of Health and the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), we will be able to return a large portion of the money."
On June 12, Tanhaei announced Iran's frozen assets in South Korea were between $6.5 billion and $9 billion.
Trade relations between Iran and South Korea have sharply declined under the US pressures.
Reacting to the decreased Tehran-Seoul trade ties, President Hassan Rouhani had said: “South Korea’s ban on Iran’s use of its central bank resources to buy basic goods, medicine, and humanitarian items is by no means acceptable, and we expect Seoul to lift this restriction as soon as possible.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in May that preliminary steps had been taken to set up a channel to allow Iran to use funds in South Korea to buy humanitarian goods. Weeks later South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Seoul was sending $500,000 worth of medicine to Iran.
According to a report by Press TV on July 7, the Iranian rial has regained some of its lost value after the CBI governor announced the country would be able to access parts of its funds that have been blocked aboard because of US sanctions.