Iran urges Japan to release billions of dollars with funds blocked under U.S. sanctions

DUBAI-Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has called on Japan to release Iran’s funds frozen domestically due to U.S. sanctions, Iran’s state television met with the Japanese foreign minister he visited on Sunday. I reported afterwards.

U.S. sanctions on the banking and energy sectors prevented Iran from acquiring tens of billions of dollars in assets, primarily from foreign banks’ oil and gas exports. This includes $ 3 billion in funding in Japan. Sanctions were re-imposed in 2018 after Washington abandoned Tehran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with the six world powers.

“Improving relations with Japan is very important for Iran … delaying the unblocking of Iran’s assets at Japanese banks is not justified,” Laisi told Tehran late Sunday for a two-day visit. I said in a meeting with Toshimitsu Motegi who arrived.

Iran and the six powers have been in talks since April to revive a nuclear deal that has agreed to curb nuclear programs that make it difficult to obtain fissile material for nuclear weapons in exchange for relief from sanctions. .. Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

However, Iran and Western officials said there was still a big gap in the revival of the agreement. The sixth indirect negotiations between Tehran and Washington in Vienna were postponed on June 20, two days after Raisi won the Iran presidential election.

Iran and the six powers have not yet announced when to resume negotiations. Raisi, who presented his cabinet to Congress for a vote of trust, is expected to adopt a “hard-line” approach at the Vienna talks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Raisi, like Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hamenei, has backed nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

“Iran has no problem with the principles of negotiations … what is the legitimacy of maintaining US sanctions against Iran?” The Iranian media quoted that Raishi had said to Motegi in Japan.

In 2019, Iran’s Prime Minister Ayatollah Ali refused to reply to the message Shinzo Abe sent to Tehran from then-US President Donald Trump. The peacebuilding visit was overshadowed by the attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. One of the tankers was Japanese.