Iran’s Central Bank has announces that the US has unfrozen $6 billion in Iranian funds as part of a deal that will eventually see the release of five Americans detained in Iran and an unknown number of Iranians detained in the US.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), Mohammad Reza Farzin, announced on Saturday that the United States has unfrozen $6 billion in Iranian assets as part of their prisoner swap agreement.
“All Iranian foreign-currency assets in South Korea have been unblocked. Soon all of these euro-denominated assets will all be deposited with six Iranian banks in Qatar and used to buy commodities that are not covered by sanctions,” the banker was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency YJC.
US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, confirmed on Friday that the US would unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds as part of a deal that will eventually see the release of five Americans detained in Iran for spying and an unknown number of Iranians detained in the US.
What’s behind S. Korea and the frozen funds?
Iranian officials have over and over again said the South Korean government was obliged to unfreeze the country’s funds, stressing that unilateral sanctions from the United States could not justify Seoul’s inaction in repaying its debts to Tehran.
Iran and South Korea had previously agreed to use the funds for the latter to purchase humanitarian items from Iran, which was later prevented due to pressure from Washington.
Seoul’s illegal compliance with the unilateral sanctions was met with restrictions on imports from South Korea as a retaliatory measure.
Seoul did circumvent the sanctions in early 2022, however, paying $18 million in frozen Iranian funds to pay Tehran’s UN dues and restore the country’s voting rights.
The US Department of State announced last year that it had issued an exemption to some of Iran’s blocked funds in South Korea and Japan, allowing them to import Iranian oil. The waiver, signed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, allows the “transfer of Iranian funds in restricted accounts to exporters in Japan and the Republic of Korea.”