The Korea Times

US willing to talk with Iran on ‘unfreezing of funds’ locked in Seoul


The United States would be willing to discuss with Iran the issue of unlocking its frozen funds in South Korea to achieve the overarchin­g objective of a denucleari­zed North Korea, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday.

Ned Price said the U.S. is insistent in achieving its goal, but not on how or where it will discuss the issue with Iran.

“I would put that in the context of things we would want to discuss, in the context of prospectiv­e talks with the Iranians,” the spokesman said when asked about the possibilit­y of discussion­s on the release of Iranian funds held in South Korea.

About $7 billion worth of Iranian assets remain locked in South Korean banks under U.S. sanctions that were put back in place following Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from the multilater­al nuclear pact with Tehran, known as the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

South Korea has offered to release part of the Iranian funds to a bank account in Switzerlan­d to be used for humanitari­an purposes following Iran’s seizure of a South Korean tanker and its crew members in January.

Seoul, however, said the money will not be released unless Washington agrees.

Price earlier said the allies were in consultati­ons over the issue.

“Again, we are not dogmatic about the format. We are dogmatic about other elements, including our overriding objective in this,” he told a press briefing on Tuesday, after reiteratin­g the U.S.’ willingnes­s to return to the JCPOA following Iran’s compliance with its obligation­s under the nuclear deal, signed July 2015.

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