TEHRAN -- Iran is awaiting the release of about $7 billion in funds frozen abroad, media reports said on Sunday, after it allowed a man to leave the country and released his son from detention.
Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad, and his son Siamak, 50, was released from detention in Tehran, the UN said on Saturday.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” said official IRNA news agency.
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries – notably China, South Korea and Japan – since the U.S. reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2018 after unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran has accused Seoul of holding $7 billion of its funds “hostage”, repeatedly calling on South Korean authorities to release it.
IRNA on Sunday said that “Washington is pursuing at the same time the release of its citizens detained in Tehran and the release of Iranian funds in South Korea”.
The development comes amid on-off talks that have been under way since April 2021 to revive the 2015 deal that gave Iran much-needed relief from sanctions.
Iran has repeatedly called for the lifting of sanctions, as well as guarantees that the U.S. will not again pull out of a revived deal.
Baquer Namazi was detained in February 2016 when he went to Iran to purportedly press for the release of his son, Siamak, who had been arrested in October the previous year.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The father was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.