TEHRAN (Press TV) -- South Korea is holding the largest sum of Iran’s oil money frozen under U.S. pressure and yet it is reportedly stonewalling attempts to repatriate it at a time when the Islamic Republic badly needs the billions of dollars to put its economy in order and fight a new coronavirus outbreak.
South Korea was the biggest client of Iranian gas condensate with 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) on top of 100,000 bpd of crude oil, but the country stopped the imports even before U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry went into effect in November 2018.
There are no official figures on the amount of the money being held, but some sources have put it in the range of $7 billion, Iran’s Etemad daily newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Last December, Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo newspaper cited officials as saying that Iran’s Foreign Ministry had called in the South Korean ambassador to demand payment of 7 trillion won ($6 billion) for oil it sold to the Asian country.
According to the paper, Iran expressed "strong regret” over Seoul’s failure to complete the payment, which has been deposited at two South Korean banks without being transferred to Iran’s central bank for years. It added that other Iranian authorities including the central bank also complained.
A South Korean Foreign Ministry official said at the time the Iranian side had expressed its position that it hoped for the humanitarian trade to be resumed. South Korea, the official said, was in talks with Iran and the U.S. frequently so that the shipments of humanitarian goods like medical supplies could be resumed using the won-based transaction system.
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