Iran criticizes President’s comments… Main purpose is ‘$7 billion in frozen funds’

On the afternoon of the 15th (local time), President Yoon Seok-yeol visits the ARK unit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and encourages troops. Provided by the President’s Office 2023.1.17 News 1

It seems that the reason why the Iranian government continued in the recent controversy regarding President Yoon Seok-yeol’s comments about “Iran, the enemy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)” is because, above all, the economic difficulties and caused by US sanctions against Iran has intensified.

It is noted that President Yoon’s comments can be seen as being used by the Iranian authorities to turn the arrow outwards in a situation where discontent within the country has increased due to influence high intensity sanctions by the United States, the corruption of the regime, and the failure of economic policies.

Speaking at a regular briefing on the 23rd (local time), Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Khanani said, “The Korean government showed a willingness to correct mistakes,” regarding the controversy over President Yoon’s comments, but “of In our view, the Korean government’s actions are not enough. no,” he said.

Spokesman Kanani continued, “The Iranian people have the right to see their money returned in Korea,” and insisted that “this matter should not be linked to other diplomatic issues.”

“The security of our brother country, the UAE, is our security,” President Yoon said in a meeting with soldiers of the “Ark Unit,” the UAE’s military training cooperation group, during his visit to the UAE on the 15th. North Korea is an enemy. “We and the UAE are in a very similar situation,” he said, drawing backlash from Iran.

The South Korean government immediately explained to the Iranian side through diplomatic channels that “President Yoon’s comments were to incite troops and had nothing to do with Korea-Iranian relations,” but on the 18th, the Iranian side called Yoon Kang- hyun, the ambassador to Iran, and the South Korean government also sent them on the 19th Tensions between the two countries showed signs of worsening, such as inviting Iran’s Ambassador to Korea Saeed Vadamchi Shavestari to Korea.

Diplomats believe the controversy surrounding President Yoon’s comments is very likely to have subsided for now, based on spokesman Kanani’s statement that “the Korean government has shown a willingness to correct mistakes.”

However, some point to the need to keep an eye on related trends as the Iranian side continues to discuss the ‘money freeze’ issue, which is not directly related to President Yoon’s comments.

Reza Najafi, Iran’s Vice Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs and International Organizations, is known to have threatened to “review bilateral relations if Korea does not take effective measures” regarding the frozen funds issue when South Korean Ambassador Yun was summoned in earlier.

Currently, about 7 billion dollars of Iran’s crude oil exports are known to be frozen in Korean banks. This comes after the US government announced it was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) citing suspicions of Iran’s secret nuclear development in May 2018, when former President Donald Trump job, and then reinstate sanctions against Iran. .

In 2015, during the presidency of former President Barack Obama, the ‘Iran nuclear agreement’ signed with Germany, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, such as Britain, France, China, and Russia, were countermeasures against Iran’s nuclear deterrence. Lifting sanctions against Iran is key.

In the midst of this, the Iranian side has been continuously calling for the return of funds frozen against the Korean government. Even when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) detained the Korean national ship ‘Korea Chemie’ passing through the Strait of Hormuz in 2021 for 95 days, it was not the ‘environmental pollution’ claimed by Iran, but the issue of the frozen fund which came into being. direct factor, at home and abroad

However, the South Korean government explains that “the return of the frozen funds is only possible if the Iran nuclear deal is restored and US sanctions against Iran are lifted first.” After the inauguration of President Joe Biden in 2021, the US government began negotiations to restore the Iran nuclear deal, but has not yet been able to reduce the disagreement with Iran and maintain sanctions.

Meanwhile, Iran’s economic situation has worsened due to sanctions from Western countries such as the United States, and political unrest has deepened as anti-government protests and workers’ strikes have continued recently, such as ‘against the hijab’. Subsequently, the value of the Iranian currency (rial) is also at its lowest daily, which is more than 450,000 rials per US dollar on the 22nd of this month (local time). Iran’s inflation rate reached 50% last year alone.

Experts say that due to this internal situation, the Iranian side seems to be more and more obsessed with solving the problem of the frozen fund.

Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha Womans University, said, “$7 billion is a significant amount for Iran, which is under economic sanctions after the nuclear deal was broken.” There seems to be a desire that Korea should try to solve the problem more actively.”

Jang Byeong-ok, professor emeritus in the Iranian language department at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, also said that the latest move by the Iranian authorities “means that they are trying to quickly find $7 billion in Korea and add it to the recovery of the bad economy by diverting domestic attention from the pro-democracy protests abroad.”

The $7 billion frozen in Korean banks is known to be the largest amount of frozen Iranian funds of any country under US sanctions.

(Seoul = News 1)

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