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Iranian funds from S. Korea will not go to Iran: NSA Sullivan

By Yonhap

Published : Aug. 23, 2023 - 09:18

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Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder is seen answering questions during a daily press briefing at the Department of Defense in Washington on Tuesday. (The White House) Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder is seen answering questions during a daily press briefing at the Department of Defense in Washington on Tuesday. (The White House)

WASHINGTON -- Iranian assets currently frozen in South Korean banks will not go to Iran, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday, dismissing concerns that the money could be used to advance the Middle Eastern country's illegal weapons program.

The US said earlier that it was in negotiations with Tehran to transfer the frozen funds from South Korean banks to a special account in Qatar in exchange for the release of five US citizens currently detained in Iran.

"First of all, we are not sending $6 billion to Iran," Sullivan said when asked about the Iranian assets in South Korea in a virtual press briefing.

"We are transferring funds from one restricted account outside of Iran to another restricted account outside of Iran to operate under supervision to ensure that those funds are spent non-sanctionable transactions," he added.

His remarks come amid concerns that the money, once released, could be used to support terrorist activities or fund Iran's illicit nuclear program.

Vedant Patel, deputy spokesperson for the US Department of State, has said the money will only be used for humanitarian purposes under "full US visibility" if released.

"These funds have been available to Iran to use for humanitarian transactions, like food and medicine," Patel said earlier. "Iran's accounts in other countries have been used to purchase humanitarian goods and services and to conduct other non-sanctionable transactions, and this money, as we continue to move along the process and have these negotiations and discussions, any kinds of funds that move will be subject to the same rigorous restrictions." (Yonhap)