Business And Markets

Iran Uses Currency Blocked in South Korea to Buy Vaccine

Iran Uses Currency Blocked in  South Korea to Buy Vaccine
Iran Uses Currency Blocked in  South Korea to Buy Vaccine

Iran has used a part of its forex assets blocked in South Korea to pay for the Covid-19 vaccine, head of the Iran-South Korea Joint Chamber of Commerce said. 
"Iran has used $30 million of its blocked assets in South Korea to pay for vaccines and other medical needs," Hussein Tanhaee told the official state news Agency, IRNA. 
"We were hopeful about agreements with the Koreans, but so far only a small segment of the deal has been realized," Tanhaee said referring to the failure of a previous deals between the two sides for unfreezing the assets. 
The government has intensified efforts to pay vaccine import amid mounting public pressure as Covid deaths and infections rise. 
On Tuesday, the governor of Central Bank of Iran Abdolnasser Hemmati said the bank had allocated $100 million for vaccine import. The senior banker Iran has a $178 million contract with Covax for 16.8 million doses of the vaccine. 
Covax is a global initiative, affiliated to World Health Organization, aimed at providing nations with equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. 
Tehran has long complained about Seoul’s refusal to unlock the assets to buy essential goods and medicine including the coronavirus vaccine.
Seoul has been pressed to unblock more than $7 billion of Iranian assets frozen due to the US economic blockade. Korean officials said last month were in talks with Washington on ways to release the money without violating the tough unilateral sanctions. 
The East Asian country had earlier agreed to release $1 billion of the assets, a deal which was apparently foiled by US obstructionism.
Following talks with the South Korea ambassador to Tehran in mid-February, Hemmati said Iran and South Korea had reached an agreement on using "part" of Iran’s forex assets held in that  country. 
Soon after, the foreign ministry in Seoul said the assets would be released after consultations with the Amercians. Unnamed foreign ministry officials then told Korean news outlets that Washington had “agreed in principle” on the partial transfer of Iranian funds to Switzerland, from where it could be used via the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA).
The deal fell flat under mounting US pressure.  The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month said the White House would continue controlling Iranian funds frozen in South Korea unless Tehran returns to the 2015 nuclear accord. 
The landmark agreement was abandoned by the former US president Donald Trump in 2018. In response, Iran scaled down its commitments outlined in the accord with the six world powers. 

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