Iran sanctions could be biggest challenge for Seoul: scholar

The Iranian nuclear crisis will weigh more heavily on South Korea in the future, although Seoul has been trying to distance itself from international politics in doing business with the oil-rich Islamic country, a scholar in Washington said Wednesday.

“The Iranian nuclear crisis is Seoul’s biggest future challenge,” Alon Levkowitz, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told a forum here. “If the Iranian nuclear crisis peaks and significant sanctions are imposed on Iran, or if the situation deteriorates further, Seoul will have to take a stand and deal with the implications this crisis will have on its trade and investments in the region.”

Levkowitz’s remarks comes just days after Robert Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control who oversees U.S. sanctions on North Korea and Iran, called for South Korea’s cooperation in banning business ties with blacklisted Iranian entities.

Washington, the European Union and several of their allies announced in recent weeks new sanctions on Iran to press the Islamic country to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons programs, threatening to sanction foreign companies and banks involved in transactions with blacklisted Iranian entities and individuals.

South Korean firms are concerned that any limited business with Iran will greatly undermine their long-term opportunities there in the petrochemical, construction and plant export industries amid China’s growing in…

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