S Korea pays Iran’s delinquent $18m UN dues with frozen funds

Tehran expected to regain its vote at the UN General Assembly after Seoul pays $18m dues using $7bn Iranian funds frozen due to US sanctions.

Iran's President's Ebrahim Raisi remotely addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly
Iran had regained its UN voting rights in June 2021 after it managed to make the payment on its arrears [File: Eduardo Munoz/Pool Photo via AP]

Iran is expected to regain its vote in the UN General Assembly after South Korea paid Tehran’s delinquent dues to the world body with Iranian funds frozen in the country, Seoul says.

Sunday’s announcement echoed a similar situation where Iran regained its UN voting rights in June 2021 after it managed to make the payment on its arrears.

Earlier this month, however, it announced that US sanctions had impeded its ability to pay for the second year in a row.

Any release of Iran’s frozen funds requires the approval of the United States, which joined its European allies this week in saying only weeks remain to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump took Washington out of the deal, re-imposing a series of US sanctions. Iran later rolled back its compliance on many of the deal’s nuclear restrictions.

Seoul “on Friday completed the payment of Iran’s UN dues of about $18 million through the Iranian frozen funds in South Korea, in active cooperation with related agencies such as US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the United Nations Secretariat,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

“Iran’s right to vote at the General Assembly is expected to be restored immediately with the payment,” the ministry added.

The Seoul UN office was not reachable for comment outside business hours.

Iran urgently asked South Korea last week to help pay the UN contribution with the frozen funds on concerns of the loss of its right to vote in the 193-member General Assembly, the South Korean ministry said.

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

A South Korean finance ministry official declined to say how much of the Iranian frozen funds remain after this payment of UN dues and another release last year, citing confidentiality laws.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies