South Korea finalizing talks with US on using Iran’s frozen assets to pay UN dues: Official

A South Korean Foreign Ministry official says his country is finalizing talks with the US on Iran’s payment of its UN membership dues through using some of its frozen assets in the East Asian nation.

“The issue has been almost settled. We’ve finished discussions (with the US) about paying dues and we need to have discussions on very technical parts,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quotedthe official as saying on Wednesday.

“There’s been considerable progress on the issue of dues and I think this served as a chance (for Iran) to feel our sincerity,”the official added.

Some 7billion dollars in Iranian assets have been frozen in South Korean banks due to the sanctions imposed by the US, which ban dollar-based transactions with Iran.  

Iran has proposed paying part of its UN contributions in arrearswith its frozen funds in South Korea.

The South Korean ministry official added that the Seoul government has been in talks with Washington about a non-dollar payment method.

According to the official, South Korea and the US are also in consultations over ways to expand other humanitarian trade with Iran using the frozen money.

The announcement came a day after Iran said it had given permission to the crew members of a South Korean vessel it seized last month for environmental pollution to leave the country.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last month that the government has allocated funds for the payment of its dues to the UN, but Washington was preventing Tehran from paying its contributions.

Zarif said that Iran’s unpaid membership contributions are the only reason the UN General Assembly has stripped the country of its right to vote.

“We should have paid $16 million to settle our debts to the UN and secure our right to vote. The government allocated the fund, and urged that the country’s frozen assets in South Korea be used [to pay the debts], but the US blocked the payment to the UN account,” Zarif told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on January 22.

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said earlier that the country has regularly paid its UN membership contributions despite unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on Tehran, which have made financial transactions difficult for the Islamic Republic.

“During recent years, despite restrictions caused by unilateral US sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran has always used few remaining financial channels to pay its UN membership dues,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

“Our country’s latest proposal [to the UN] in this regard was to settle arrears using the country’s frozen assets in South Korea,” Khatibzadeh added, noting that Iran’s Central Bank has authorized the option and negotiations on using it are underway with the UN secretariat.

Under Article 19 of the UN Charter, a member state behind in the payment of its dues — in a sum that equals or exceeds the contributions due for two preceding years — can lose its ability to vote in the General Assembly.  An exception is allowed if the member state can show that conditions beyond its control contributed to this inability to pay.

A statement by the UN General Assembly said that as of 20 January 2021, seven member states, including Iran, are subject to the provisions of Article 19 of the Charter.

Back to top button