Iran says $7 billion in frozen funds to be returned to Tehran
Iranian media have reported that a deal is close to being reached for $7 billion in funds that are currently frozen in foreign banks for return to Tehran.
The funds were trapped by US sanctions against Iran. It is unclear whether the unfreezing of funds can be a sign of progress in long-running talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al-Busaidi is expected in Tehran on April 12 to help finalize the deal. Iranian news agency Tasnin reported that the funds could first be transferred to the Central Bank of Iran account at the Central Bank of Oman.
The current location of the funds has not been disclosed, but they represent only a small fraction of frozen Iranian assets around the world. Iran is said to have well over $100 billion in funds trapped in banks in Iraq, South Korea, Japan, Canada and elsewhere.
The figure includes about $10 billion frozen in South Korea, including $7 billion held at the Industrial Bank of Korea and Woori Bank and another $2.7 billion frozen at the Seoul branch of Iran’s Bank. Mellat.
These funds have been discussed bilaterally in recent months. In January, South Korea used some of the funds it holds to pay Iranian dues to the United Nations.
Iranian Public News Agency IRNA said the framework of the latest deal would be similar to a recent deal with the UK that saw the transfer of 470 million euros ($510 million) to Iran to settle a debt dating back to the 1970s. as the money was being paid, two British citizens – Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori – were allowed to leave the country and return to Britain.
Others, however, remain detained in Iran and their representatives have complained that the British government has not done enough to help them. Satar Rahmani, spokesperson for Mehran Raoof – who has been held in Evin prison in Tehran since October 2020 – said it was “a travesty and outrage that three British citizens – Mehran Raoof, Morad Tahbaz and Shahram Shirkhani – remain imprisoned in Iran, apparently excluded, so far, from the agreement reached between the British and Iranian governments.”