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Seoul may impose further sanctions against Iran

The South Korean government is reviewing whether to impose additional sanctions against Iran for its suspicious role in developing a nuclear weapon, a government official said Thursday.

The government is carefully considering halting exports and imports of petrochemical products between Iran and Korea at the U.S. request, the official said.

“South Korea is already fully implementing sanctions against Iran in line with the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929. But the recent suspicion of Iran’s nuclear program has led the international community including the U.S. to impose additional sanctions,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.

“We are considering joining the move.”

The official said related ministries should carefully discuss whether additional sanctions are necessary.

Ministries including the Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Knowledge Economy Ministry and the Financial Supervisory Commission are expected to discuss the Iran-related issues.

Seoul has maintained sanctions against Iran’s finance, trade, transportation and energy sectors since Sept. 8, 2010.

Korea imports about 9 percent of its total crude oil use from Iran. The existing sanctions call for Korea to make payments in won, not in greenback.

Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman visited Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-hwan to explain about the U.S. sanctions against Iran’s financial and energy sectors, and apparently asked Seoul to impose additional sanctions against Tehran.

Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Cho Byung-jae said in an earlier press briefing that the ministry will consult with other related ministries on the issue of additional sanctions.

“As for the necessity and the scope (of additional sanctions), we will consider the international community’s stance including the recent IAEA decision,” he said.

On Friday, the IAEA board adopted a resolution on Iran’s suspicious nuclear program, calling for urgent dialogue between Iran and the U.N. atomic watchdog.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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