Iran says US approved release of frozen Iranian assets in Iraq

An Iranian trade official said Friday the US green-lit the release of Iranian funds that have been frozen in Iraq due to US sanctions.

Citing Iraqi sources, Hamid Hosseini, board member of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce, said Washington has approved the release of frozen Iranian assets at the Trade Bank of Iraq.

“Several transactions have [already] been made,” Hosseini wrote on Twitter, without mentioning the value of the assets.

US sanctions have prevented Iran from accessing tens of billions of its assets in foreign banks.

Iranian frozen assets in Iraq amount to more than $6 billion, according to Iranian officials.

The release of Iran’s frozen assets will help with the “provision of essential items” for the public ahead of the Iranian new year and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Hosseini said.

Under US sanctions, Iraq pays the money for gas bought from Iran to an account at the Trade Bank of Iraq, which Tehran is only allowed to use to buy humanitarian goods from Iraq itself.

Last October, the head of the Iran-South Korea Chamber of Commerce said the release of Iranian frozen funds in South Korea, which he said are worth $8.5 billion, depended on the outcome of the US presidential election.

Iran’s economy has been hit hard since 2018 when former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed sweeping sanctions on the country.

Last month, South Korea said it reached an agreement with Iran over the release of Tehran’s frozen funds in South Korean banks but signalled that the agreement was effectively subject to US approval.

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