Iran has called on South Korea to release its assets frozen under estimated US sanctions in billions of dollars, regardless of the outcome of the Vienna talks aimed at relaunching the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, during a meeting between the diplomats of the two countries in the Austrian capital today, Thursday.
And the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri met with his South Korean counterpart Choi Jong-kun, currently in visit to Vienna, in coinciding with the continuation of nuclear talks between Tehran and the major powers with indirect participation of the United States.
These negotiations aim to revive the 2015 agreement between Tehran and six major powers, from which Washington unilaterally withdrew in 2018, re-imposing tough economic sanctions on Iran.
Bagheri, the chief nuclear negotiator, told the South Korean diplomat of the need to “work for the release of Iranian assets, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations in Vienna,” according to IRNA.
Bagheri stressed that US sanctions “do not justify Korean behavior in refraining from paying debts to Iran”, reiterating his country’s position that non-release of assets is “unjustified and illegal” and represents a “black spot. “in relations between the two countries.
Iran was in third place among South Korea’s trading partners in Middle East, before the United States pulled out of the deal during the era of their former president, Donald Trump, and re-imposes severe sanctions on Tehran that have affected several sectors, in especially the export of oil.
Iranian officials say Seoul has frozen its banks, under US pressure, about eight billion dollars in exchange of oil exports dating back to the pre-sanctions era.
On January 4, the South Korean Foreign Ministry announced that Choe will travel to Vienna to meet the heads of delegations participating in the nuclear deal talks.
He explained that the visit aims to “explore ways to resolve the issue of frozen Iranian assets in Korea on the sidelines of the JCPOA negotiations “, through the” consultation “with Iran and the” coordination “with Washington and the three European countries that are party to the agreement, as well as the European Union, which deals with the role of the facilitator in negotiation.
For its part, the Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the South Korean side has requested the meeting and that “it has nothing to do with the negotiations between Iran and the 4 + 1 group”.
In April, the Vienna talks began between Iran and the powers still affiliated with the agreement, known as the 4 + 1 group, namely France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia and China, with the indirect participation of the United States. It was suspended in June and resumed on November 29.
Tehran stresses the priority of lifting the sanctions that Washington has reintroduced and obtaining guarantees that the US withdrawal will not be repeated. On the other hand, the US and European parties focus on the importance of Iran’s return to full compliance with its commitments under the agreement, which it began withdrawing in 2019. in response to Washington’s withdrawal.
The agreement allowed for the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, in change in the limitation of its nuclear activities and the guarantee of the pace of his program. However, its effects have gone nil since Washington withdrew during the Trump era. President Joe Biden, who succeeded him in early 2021, has expressed a willingness to bring his country back to the nuclear deal, but only on condition that Tehran once again complies with its terms.
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