U.S. Allows South Korea to Send Funds to Iran in Talks Success
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. has allowed South Korea to send at least $63 million in overdue damages to an Iranian company, according to reports and officials in Seoul, a significant decision that may ease Tehran’s access to billions trapped in the Asian country by American sanctions.
The announcement appears to be a concrete achievement to emerge from talks in Vienna to rebuild trust between Iran and world powers and restore the 2015 nuclear deal. It comes a week after South Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun visited the Austrian capital to meet with the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley.
On Jan. 6, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a “specific license” for the South Korean government to send the funds owed to Iranian government-linked company Dayyani Holdings, Yonhap reported Wednesday. The final amount will be settled in further consultations, it said. South Korean government ministries confirmed the license in a joint statement that didn’t give details.
Iran says that some $7 billion owed for oil cargoes delivered to South Korea have been blocked since former U.S. President Donald Trump exited the nuclear accord and imposed strict sanctions on the Islamic Republic. South Korea has said the U.S. penalties prevented it from releasing the funds.
Iran, S.Korea Discuss Frozen Funds on Sidelines of Nuclear Talks
Iran’s seeking compensation in a number of commercial disputes with Western governments or companies abandoned due to sanctions or the 1979 Islamic revolution that severed Tehran’s alliance with the U.S.
One of the most long-standing cases involves the U.K. government and an outstanding payment of more than 400 million pounds ($546 million) to Iran over the non-delivery of scores of military tanks paid. The dispute has been linked to the detention of British-Iranian charity worker, Nazanin Zarghari-Ratcliffe, held in Tehran since 2016.
Wednesday’s announcement was followed by news that an Iranian employee of the British Council, who had been imprisoned in the country since 2018, has been acquitted by Iran’s Supreme Court and is back in the U.K.
While there’s no apparent link between the case and the South Korean financial settlement, both show that negotiators in Vienna are making some headway in their efforts to ease the standoff with Iran.
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