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Iran has many options to force South Korea to pay back debt: MP

Iranian parliament lawmaker Fada Hossein Maleki

A senior member of Iran’s parliament says the country has many options to force South Korea to return over $7 billion of Iranian funds that have remained blocked in the country under the pretext of compliance with US sanctions on Tehran.

Fada Hossein Maleki, a member the powerful National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian parliament, said on Tuesday that Iran will exhaust all measures to secure the release of the funds blocked in South Korea.

“We have repeatedly said that Iran will not sit idle if this $7 billion is not paid back and we have many options that would be to South Korea’s detriment and we will definitely use them,” Maleki was quoted as saying by semi-official ILNA news agency.

The remarks came hours after the Iranian parliament started procedures related to a bill submitted by the government which seeks the approval of the legislature to refer the dispute with South Korea over the blocked funds to international arbitration.

Maleki said the bill was a response to Seoul’s repeated unfulfilled promises about the return of the Iranian funds, adding that the parliament would do its utmost to help the government secure the release of the funds.

“The Koreans said again and again that they will pay but they never fulfilled their promises and this created a kind of distrust and the government reached the conclusion that it should seek the help of the parliament,” said the politician.

South Korean authorities claim US sanctions on Tehran make it practically impossible to use the international banking system to return the funds that it has deposited to tow bank accounts in the country for purchases of oil and petroleum products before 2018.

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