By Park Byong-su, Staff Writer
Robert Einhorn, the US State Department’s adviser for sanctions on North Korea and Iran, made a formal request Tuesday for South Korean cooperation in sanctions against Iran.
“We are urging [partner nations] to reduce their purchase of crude oil from Iran and their financial dealings with the central bank of Iran,” Einhorn said.
Meeting with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade assistant deputy minister Kim Jae-shin at the ministry’s complex in Seoul’s Doryeom neighborhood Tuesday morning, Einhorn expressed concern that Iran was avoiding negotiations on its nuclear program and said it was very important that the international community send clear and consistent signals to Tehran. This is the first official request Washington has made for South Korea to reduce its Iranian crude oil imports.
Einhorn also linked the sanctions issue with the North Korean nuclear program, saying progress in the Iranian issue would be helpful in achieving headway in the North Korean one.
Sources said specifics about the amount of reductions in Iranian crude oil imports were not discussed at the meeting Tuesday.
Afterwards, Kim said, “We shared the understanding that because each country’s situation with regard to reductions of Iranian crude oil imports is different, it was not possible to set a standard reduction amount.”
Kim added that the reduction amount would be decided “as we see the situation progress.”
Einhorn said that Washington‘s hope was that everything would be done while maintaining stability in the crude oil market and that the US was aware of the South Korean government’s concerns.
Analysts interpreted this as suggesting that an exception in terms of the US National Defense Authorization Act could be applied if South Korea “substantially” cuts its Iranian crude imports.
Following his visit Tuesday to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Einhorn also stopped at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, where he explained the US position on Iran sanctions and requested reductions in Iranian crude oil imports.
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