World, Middle East

'Iran's frozen funds returning via Chinese channel with West's nod'

Iranian lawmaker says West's 'green signal’ to also allow sale of oil and transfer of its money

Syed Zafar Mehdi   | 28.01.2022
'Iran's frozen funds returning via Chinese channel with West's nod'

TEHRAN

A senior Iranian lawmaker on Friday said the release of Iran's frozen assets overseas has received "green signal" from Western powers and is on its way to the country through a Chinese channel.

Ali Alizadeh, the secretary of Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy commission, in an interview with a local news agency Shafaqna on Friday said the frozen funds were on their way to Iran through a Chinese channel, instead of the European INSTEX channel.

Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) is a trade mechanism between Iran and Europe floated in January 2019 to bypass US sanctions and continue trade.

The lawmaker said the countries that have frozen Iran's funds worth billions of dollars had shown readiness to return it, but have been waiting to see the outcome of ongoing nuclear deal talks in Vienna.

He stressed that the Western powers have given their go-ahead to the move, although they are not in favor of it being publicized through media.

The West's green light, Alizadeh went on to say, will also allow for hassle-free sale of Iranian oil and transfer of its money back to Iran, which he said can motivate the parties in Vienna to conclude the negotiations.

Iran has around $100 to $120 billion blocked in foreign countries, including South Korea, Iraq, Japan, Canada, among others. The funds were frozen soon after the former US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran.

Earlier this week, Seoul paid Iran's $18 million UN dues from its frozen funds in South Korea, a move that was approved by the US Treasury Department. It came days after the top South Korean diplomat held talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator in Vienna.

Technical issues are ‘biggest hurdles’

Meanwhile, the Iranian lawmaker said the parties in Vienna are interested in concluding the marathon talks underway since April last year, but some "technical issues" are acting as "biggest hurdles."

Alizadeh said Iran's parliament is closely monitoring the nuclear talks and after every round a report is presented to the lawmakers on the progress and hurdles.

Pertinently, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian appeared before the internal security and foreign policy commission of the parliament on Friday, wherein he presented a detailed report on four key areas under discussion – lifting sanctions, nuclear commitments, guarantees and verification, his office said.

He told lawmakers that Iran was eyeing a "good, stable, and reliable agreement".

The top diplomat also said that so far no direct dialogue has taken place between Tehran and Washington, and technical views were being exchanged by the two sides through "informal written notes" and mediated through European Union Coordinator Enrique Mora.

Last week, he created a flutter by saying that Iran will not shy away from holding direct talks with the US if the parties reach a point in the negotiations "whereby a good agreement requires dialogue with the US."

The statement, however, did not go down well with many conservative figures as well as the powerful clergy based in the city of Qom.

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