US Allows Iran To Use Frozen Funds To Pay Its UN Dues
In the second conciliatory move in as many days, the Biden administration has allowed money to be transferred from South Korea on Friday to pay the minimum amount Iran owes in dues to the United Nations and regain its voting right.
On Thursday, the US had lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and two companies it said had changed their “behavior”. Since President Joe Biden came to office and announced that he would like the US to return to the 2015 nuclear deal his predecessor had abandoned, Iran has been demanding lifting of all US sanctions.
But the spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh dismissed the US gestures in a tweet on Friday. “Selective US delistings are neither related to JCPOA talks nor viewed as signals of goodwill-specially when coupled with renewed economic terrorism.” Khatibzadeh appeared to be referring to sanctions the US imposed Thursday on a network that sold Iranian oil and diverted the money to Yemen’s Houthis.
Iran lost its vote in the 193-member General Assembly in January because it was more than two years in arrears. It owed a total of more than $65 million, but paid the minimum amount needed to regain its vote.
"Iran has paid the minimum amount due," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said on Friday, confirming Iran could vote again.
Iran says $20 billion of its oil revenues have been frozen in countries like South Korea, Iraq and China since 2018 under sanctions imposed by then-US President Donald Trump.
Iran has lost most of its crude oil exports since 2018 and its international banking ties because of US sanctions. President Trump rejected the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA signed by the Obama administration and called it “a disaster”. He wanted to reach a stronger agreement ensuring that Iran would not be able to build nuclear weapons and also demanded Tehran to stop its interferences in the region.
Iran was able to vote in the General Assembly on Friday to elect five new members of the U.N. Security Council.
Iran's Foreign Ministry said that it had proposed to the United Nations that it could use funds frozen in South Korea to pay its dues. It said the world body followed up with the US Treasury Department to get the appropriate approvals.
A spokesperson for the US Treasury Department said on Friday: "The US government typically authorizes the payment of UN dues, including through OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) general licenses and specific licenses."
The UN payment comes as US President Joe Biden's administration and Iranian officials are expected to begin their sixth round of indirect talks in Vienna this weekend about how both sides might resume compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal.
Reporting by Reuters