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Iran can tap $4 billion of previously blocked funds: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A report says Iran can now access $4 billion of funds that were previously deemed blocked.

An Iranian newspaper with close links to the government says that the country can now access around $4 billion worth of funds that were previously deemed inaccessible because of foreign sanctions or other issues.

The Saturday report published on the website of Javan newspaper said the government had managed to unblock the Iranian funds kept abroad without resorting to quid pro quo tactics commonly used by a previous administration that left office in mid-summer.

The report described the unfreezing of the funds as vital for talks planned for late November in Austria which are aimed at reviving an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Elaborating on a breakdown of the figure, the newspaper said that it includes the sum of 400 million pounds ($535 million) owed by Britain for an unfulfilled military equipment agreement with Iran dating back to the 1970s.

It also confirmed a Thursday Twitter post by the head of the official IRNA news agency Ali Naderi which indicated that $3.5 billion worth of Iranian funds held abroad will soon return to the “country’s trade cycle”.

Neither Javan nor Naderi have given any clue as to which country would release the funds.

Estimates suggest Iran has around $50 billion worth of funds in other countries for sales of crude and energy products that took place before the US sanctions were imposed in 2018.

An Iranian businessman who watches over trade between Iran and South Korea said that on Saturday that Seoul had had no change of policy with regards to more than $7 billion of Iranian funds held in two banks in the country.

“The $3.5 billion that was claimed to have been released was not related to the Iranian funds in South Korea,” said Hossein Tanhayi, who serves as chairman of Iran-South Korea Chamber of Commerce, in an interview with the ILNA news agency.

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