Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnasser Hemmati criticized South Korea for failing to unfreeze Iran’s assets, describing it as unacceptable and a big mistake.
“South Korean banks have frozen our assets in the country for years and refuse to settle the issue,” Hemmati said in a meeting in Tehran on Monday with First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Korea Choi Jong Kun.
He referred to his talks with South Korean officials during his trip to Seoul a year and a half ago and said the East Asian country’s officials promised cooperation to resolve the issue but nothing was done.
Iran has started legal measures to secure its funds and will continue the legal path if negotiations fail to yield results, the top banker said.
Describing the freezing of Iran’s funds as the main challenge in the relations between Tehran and Seoul, he hoped that South Korea will act independently on this issue and disregard pressures from the outgoing US administration.
Seoul should not allow its long-time and close ties with Tehran to be affected by other countries and individuals like Donald Trump, he said.
On Sunday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the visiting South Korean diplomat that Korean banks have illegally blocked Iran’s currency resources for nearly two years and a half citing a fear of US sanctions.
“This action (by South Korea), which is only surrender to ransom demand from the US, is not acceptable, and naturally the expansion of relations (between Tehran and Seoul) would be meaningful only when this problem is solved,” the Iranian deputy minister added.
Pointing to the failure of negotiations that Iran, particularly the country’s Central Bank, has held with the South Korean officials about the problem, Araqchi said Iran believes that the freezing of its financial assets in South Korea results from the Seoul government’s lack of political will rather than the cruel sanctions imposed by the US.
He further called on South Korea to make serious efforts to find the necessary mechanism for resolving the issue as a top priority in the relations with Iran.
In response, Choi Jong Kun underlined that allowing Iran’s access to its currency assets in South Korea is one of the Seoul government’s main priorities, saying his country is determined to pursue the case until ultimate settlement of the problem.