Iran proposes paying UN membership fees with funds frozen in S. Korea

Posted on : 2021-01-19 19:07 KST Modified on : 2021-01-19 19:07 KST
Foreign ministry requests that funds do not go through US bank
South Korean President Moon Jae-in gives a New Year’s press conference at the Blue House on Jan. 18. (Blue House photo pool)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in gives a New Year’s press conference at the Blue House on Jan. 18. (Blue House photo pool)

Iran communicated to the UN that it intends to pay its membership fee with payments for Iranian crude oil exports currently frozen in South Korea, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Jan. 18.

In a statement by Khatibzadeh posted to its website that day, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced the proposal to use the frozen funds in South Korea to pay Iran’s UN membership fee.

“Despite restrictions caused by the United States’ unilateral sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran has, in recent years, always paid its UN membership fee,” Khatibzadeh said.

“This year, too [. . .] Iran has been in talks with the UN Treasury [. . .] to introduce a safe channel,” he added.

Khatibzadeh went on to say, “Iran’s latest proposal in this regard was to pay this debt by having the UN use Iran’s seized assets in South Korea with the permission of the Central Bank, which is being discussed with the UN Secretariat and the necessary arrangements are being made.”

“Given that the United States has encroached upon Iran’s international assets before, the Islamic Republic of Iran insists that the UN not use an American intermediary bank to receive our country’s membership fee, or that this organization guarantee the financial transfer channel,” he continued.

The proposal appears to be an attempt to test the waters with financial transfers by focusing on UN membership fees, a use that even the US would be hard pressed to impose a freeze on.

“There has been a request from Iran, and there are currently discussions in South Korea on whether this proposal is acceptable and in the UN on whether the approach is doable,” a South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official told the Hankyoreh the same day.

In a recent letter to the UN General Assembly presidency, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded restrictions on the assembly voting rates for 10 countries in arrears on their membership fees, including Iran, Libya, the Central African Republic, and Somalia. The amount Iran owes reportedly totals around U$16.25 million. The funds currently frozen in South Korea by US sanctions amount to around US$7 billion.

On Jan. 4, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized the South Korean chemical tanker Hankuk Chemi on the stated grounds that it was polluting the waters near the Persian Gulf. First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong-kun visited Iran last week to discuss the frozen funds and the South Korean ship’s detention, but was unable to reach an agreement on a solution.

By Shin Gi-sub, senior staff writer, and Gil Yun-hyung, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to []

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles