Iran is awaiting the release of around $7bn (£6.3bn) in funds frozen overseas, state media said on Sunday, after allowing an Iranian-American to leave the country and releasing his son in detention.
Baquer Namazi, 85, has been allowed to leave Iran for treatment abroad, and his son Siamak, 50, has been released from detention in Tehran, the UN said on Saturday.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release prisoners from both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s stranded resources will be released,” state news agency IRNA said.
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries – including China, South Korea and Japan – since the United States reimposed biting sanctions on the Islamic republic in 2018 after it unilaterally withdrawn from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran has accused Seoul of holding $7 billion of its funds “hostage”, repeatedly calling on South Korean authorities to release them.
IRNA said on Sunday that “Washington is pursuing both the release of its citizens detained in Tehran and the release of Iranian funds to South Korea.”
The development comes amid on-again, off-again talks that have been underway since April 2021 to revive the 2015 deal that gave Iran much-needed sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly called for the lifting of sanctions, as well as guarantees that the United States will not withdraw from a renewed agreement.
Baquer Namazi is a former Unicef official who was arrested in February 2016 when he traveled to Iran to lobby for the release of his son, Siamak, who was arrested in October of the year former.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The father was released on sick leave in 2018 and was serving his sentence under house arrest.