South Korea Irked by Iran’s Call for Release of Frozen Assets

South Korea’s foreign ministry called in Iran’s top envoy in Seoul on to lodge a protest over Tehran’s reported threat to take a legal step against the Korean county over the freeze of Iran’s assets under Washington’s pressure.

Koh Kyung-sok, director-general in charge of African and Middle Eastern affairs, voiced regrets to Iranian Ambassador Saeed Badamchi Shabestari, as Tehran’s foreign ministry spokesperson has told Iranian media that the case could be referred to the International Court of Justice unless the assets are released.

“The official in charge called in the ambassador and expressed regrets over the inappropriate remarks,” Kim In-chul, the South Korean ministry’s spokesperson, told a regular press briefing, Yonhap news agency reported.

Iran’s assets at two Korean bank accounts — known to be worth up to US$7 billion in total — have been frozen since September last year when Washington’s sanctions waiver for South Korea’s imports of Iranian oil expired.

Due to the economic challenges caused by US unilateral sanctions and the fallout of the new coronavirus, Iran has been stepping up calls for South Korea to unlock the frozen assets at the bank accounts but Seoul has refused to do so under the US pressure.

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