August 10, 2010 11:34
The government has confirmed it will decide how to comply with a U.S. request to freeze the assets of Iran's Bank Mellat in Seoul until the U.S. comes up with detailed enforcement regulations of its Iran Sanctions Act in October.
"We don't need to make a decision on our own sanctions against the Iranian bank right now, and there's no good reason to," a government official said on the customary condition of anonymity. "We'll take our time and make a decision taking various interests into consideration and finding a legal basis."
Worldwide sanctions are already underway against Iran under UN resolutions obliging the international community to join the U.S.' Iran Sanctions Act. But Washington recently asked Seoul to impose its own sanctions against the bank.
Another government official said although the government has not yet decided any details of sanctions, companies have already reduced or suspended transactions with their Iranian counterparts to avoid damage under UN resolutions and U.S. law.
Iran does not mind companies seeking other ways of settling payment to avoid UN or U.S. strictures, but Tehran is apparently watching closely what Korea will do about Bank Mellat's Seoul branch.
The government has been auditing Bank Mellat since June as part of a regular inspection of all foreign banks in the country. The only justification to shut down the bank would be if the audit finds evidence of illicit fund transactions for Iran's nuclear development.
The government will release detailed guidelines this month so that Korean companies are safe from damage under the UN and U.S. sanctions.
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