Iran says South Korea has agreed to unfreeze around one billion U.S. dollars' worth of Iran's assets, though Seoul has not revealed any details about those negotiations.
Seoul's foreign ministry acknowledged on Monday that there was some form of agreement reached with Tehran, but unfreezing the assets, it said, would require consultations with related countries, including the U.S.
It's widely believed that Iran is pressuring South Korea to unfreeze the assets, and that in a related move Iran seized a South Korean-flagged ship in the Persian Gulf last month.
The ship's release could depend on how fast Seoul moves to release the assets.
In total, Iran's assets frozen in South Korea under U.S. sanctions are said to be worth around 7 billion dollars, and Iran says it wants to use part of that to buy supplies against COVID-19.
Experts say a resolution depends largely on the prospects of Washington and Iran resuming their nuclear talks, known as JCPOA.
"The key points of the Biden administration's Middle East policy are nothing but a return to the JCPOA. The powerholders of the Islamic Republic of Iran need to show that they are trying so hard to lift the sanctions by the U.S. for their electorates."
The expert added, however, that it's true that tensions between the U.S. and Iran over the nuclear talks and sanctions could delay the release of the frozen assets.
Also, to lift the sanctions, there are some procedures required in the U.S.
"Including the United States department of finance, they need a very thorough investigation about the impact of this release of this partial lifting of the sanctions. So, it takes a lot of time and also lots of negotiations between and among the relevant parties."
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said it wouldn't comment on bilateral negotiations between Seoul and Tehran because there has been no transfer of funds.
Its spokesperson added that it wouldn't be a surprise to see the U.S. speak with its key ally South Korea when it comes to sanctions enforcement across the board.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.