Iran regained its vote in the UN General Assembly on Friday after the United States allowed Tehran to use funds frozen in South Korea to pay around $ 16 million it owed the world body.
Iran lost its vote in the 193-member general assembly in January because it was more than two years behind. It owed more than $ 65 million in total but paid the minimum amount required to win its vote back.
“Iran has paid the minimum amount due,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq on Friday and confirmed that Iran can vote again.
Iran says $ 20 billion of its oil revenues in countries like South Korea, Iraq and China have been frozen since 2018 due to sanctions from then-US President Donald Trump.
“Illegal US sanctions have not only withheld medicine from our people, they have also prevented Iran from paying our arrears to the United Nations,” Iranian UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote on Twitter. “After more than six months of work, the UN announced today that it has received the funds.”
Iran was able to vote in the General Assembly on Friday on the election of five new members of the UN Security Council.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said it had proposed to the United Nations to use funds frozen in South Korea to pay its fees. The world agency was said to have reached out to the US Treasury Department for approvals.
“The approval was recently issued and the process of withdrawing the membership fee from the Iranian account at the Korean banks and transferring it to the UN account in Seoul has been paved and this payment will be made shortly,” said the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman , Saeed Khatibzadeh last week.
A US Treasury Department spokesman said Friday, “The US government typically authorizes the payment of UN fees, including general and specific licenses through OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control).”
The UN payment comes as U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration and Iranian officials are expected to begin their sixth round of indirect talks in Vienna this weekend on how both sides could resume compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal.
As part of the deal with the world’s major powers, Iran has curtailed its nuclear program to make it more difficult to obtain fissile material for nuclear weapons in return for easing sanctions from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, however, arguing that it gave Tehran too much sanction relief for too few nuclear restrictions and reinstated sanctions that cut Iranian oil exports. Iran then retaliated about a year later by violating the limits of its nuclear program.
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