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South Korea releases US$7 billion to Iran

Yonhap news agency, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, South Korea, Iran, South Korean, Washington

Oped

South Korea releases US$7 billion to Iran

While Joe Biden and members of his administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris may well be looking for ways to save faces in a standoff with notorious Iran, the US president has just given the thumbs to up for South Korea to release US$7 billion in assets in Iran. Joe Biden likely hopes this gesture will more his Iranian darlings closer to negotiations with the US. Policymakers of Biden are confident – this amount will lead Iran to soften its stance and return to the negotiation table, paving the ways of restarting the disastrous Iran nuclear deal that saw over US$100 billion flow into the coffers of the cruel mullahs in Iran. That was a windfall that allowed the Iranian mullahs continue their notorious jihadist crime in the region and the world. But, top policymakers in Iran are not going to show any sign of satisfaction with the amount Joe Biden has made available for them via South Korea. Iranians want at least US$1 trillion as compensation.

What South Korean media say

According to Yonhap news agency, The Iranian assets locked in South Korea will be released after consultations with the United States, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, after Iran claimed it has reached a deal with Seoul on how to transfer and use the frozen money.

According to Iran’s government website, the agreement was reached Monday (Tehran time) during the meeting between Iran’s Central Bank Gov. Abdolnaser Hemmati and South Korean Ambassador to Iran Ryu Jeong-hyun.

It said that the two sides agreed on the destinations for the transfer and that the Iranian central bank informed Seoul of the amount of the money it wants to be transferred.

Tehran has been pressuring Seoul to unblock about US$7 billion of its assets frozen in two South Korean banks due to U.S. sanctions. Seoul has been in talks with Washington on ways to release the money without violating the sanctions, including expanding humanitarian trade with the Middle Eastern country.

“Our government has been in talks with Iran about ways to use the frozen assets, and the Iran side has expressed its consent to the proposals we have made,” the foreign ministry said without providing further details of the proposals.

“The actual unfreezing of the assets will be carried out through consultations with related countries, including the United States,” the ministry said.

Earlier this month, a foreign ministry official said Seoul was finalizing talks with Washington about using some of the frozen funds to pay Tehran’s U.N. dues in arrears, to which the Islamic republic has also agreed.

To facilitate the trade with Iran of humanitarian items, such as medicine and medical equipment, South Korea has been seeking to use a Swiss channel backed by the U.S., known as the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), to use the money through Swiss companies’ sales of goods to Iran.

Despite the denial from Seoul and Tehran, speculation has mounted that Iran’s discontent over the frozen funds is related to its recent seizure of a South Korean oil tanker and its crew members in the Persian Gulf early last month.

Early this month, Tehran said it would release the sailors, except for the captain, which coincided with Seoul’s confirmation on the progress in the talks with Washington about using the frozen money for the U.N. dues.

Influential lobbyists working for Iran

In Washington, Iran has appointed a number of influential lobbyists which have direct connection with Joe Biden or Kamala Harris or both. There also is at least one lobbyist working for Iran, which has deep and intimate relations with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. There also is rumor about Hunter Biden being approached by Iranian regime with hefty amount of cash benefits for his service as a discreet lobbyist.

South Korea eager for relations with Iran

According to media reports, to facilitate the trade with Iran of humanitarian items, such as medicine and medical equipment, South Korea has been seeking to use a Swiss channel backed by the U.S., known as the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), to use the money through Swiss companies’ sales of goods to Iran.

South Korean construction and consultancy firms are also discussing various business ventures with Iran, while Tehran is willing to offer large business and infrastructural projects to South Korean firms in exchange for secret information from a number of Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia. These South Korean companies – which already have branch and activities in the Middle East may soon turn into covered spy fronts of Iran.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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