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Returning Iran's frozen money can impact tanker release, says Iranian MP

Returning Iran's frozen money can impact tanker release, says Iranian MP

Posted February. 01, 2021 07:38,   

Updated February. 01, 2021 07:38


“Korea’s quick resolution of Iran’s frozen assets would have an impact on the judiciary decision on the release of a Korean oil tanker seized by Tehran,” Chairman of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mojtaba Zonnour said at a video conference with Song Young-gil, the chair of the Korean parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, on Wednesday. It is the first time that a high-ranking Iranian official publicly mentioned the relationship between the seizure and frozen export bills for Iranian oil.  

According to Iran’s state media Islamic Republic News Agency on Sunday, Zonnour said, “Korea has not shown any movement yet.” He repeated the stance of Iranian authorities who say Korean oil tankers are seized because of contamination, but at the same time said, “Concrete steps should be taken to build trust between our two countries.”  

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp has asserted that it seized Korean vessel “Korea Chemical” heading to the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 4 because of environmental pollution coming from oil spill. But some analysts say that the frozen funds are the actual reason of the detainment as Iran has asked to resolve the frozen assets through various channels without providing proof of pollution.

The Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) is a method of sending frozen Iranian funds in Korean banks to Switzerland, purchasing humanitarian products such as medicines and food in Switzerland and exporting them to Iran, which is guaranteed by a Swiss bank. Iran demanded in February last year to transfer one billion dollars from the frozen assets in the SHTA method. The Korean government submitted a proposal to the U.S. State Department and requested exemption of sanctions in May, but the State Department has not responded yet.

Sung-Hwi Kang yolo@donga.com