Iran could regain UN vote after South Korea releases frozen funds

Seoul holds around $7 billion of Iranian money, frozen due to US sanctions

A mural depicting the Iranian national flag in Tehran. EPA

Iran is expected to regain its vote in the UN General Assembly after South Korea paid Tehran's fees to the world body, using frozen Iranian funds that it holds.

The country regained its UN voting rights in June last year after a similar payment, but said this month it had lost them again because it could not transfer the funds to pay its dues as a result of US sanctions.

Release of Iran's frozen funds requires the approval of the US, which joined its European allies this week in saying only weeks remain to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal the country agreed with western powers.

Donald Trump took the US out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions. Iran later breached many of the deal's nuclear restrictions and pushed well beyond them.

South Korea “on Friday completed the payment of Iran's UN dues of about $18 million through the Iranian frozen funds in South Korea, in active co-operation with related agencies such as US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control and the United Nations Secretariat,” the country's Finance Ministry said on Sunday.

Iran urgently asked South Korea last week to help pay the contribution with the frozen funds, the ministry said.

Tehran has repeatedly demanded the release of about $7 billion of its funds frozen in South Korean banks under US sanctions, saying Seoul was holding the money “hostage".

A South Korean finance ministry official would not say how much Iranian money remains frozen in the country after the payment of the UN dues.

Updated: January 23, 2022, 7:19 AM