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Iran Struggling to Pry Trapped Billions From South Korean Banks

  • Iran says South Korea buckling to U.S. ‘maximum pressure’
  • Iran can’t use funds, even for goods exempt from sanctions
Reactions in Seoul As Coronavirus Cases Top 1500
Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

South Korean banks wary of U.S. sanctions are holding tight to billions of dollars of Iranian funds, Iran says, apparently unwilling to budge before Joe Biden assumes the U.S. presidency.

The banks won’t release $7 billion of payments for Iranian oil that are stuck in won-denominated deposits in South Korea, not even to a special humanitarian trade channel partly overseen by the U.S. government itself, said the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Abdolnaser Hemmati, who met with a top South Korean diplomat last week.