TEHRAN (Iran News) – South Korea is pushing for a resumption of humanitarian trade transactions with Iran amid the coronavirus outbreak, with the shipments likely to begin next month, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said on Friday.
The South Korean official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that South Korea has won US approval for the resumption of humanitarian exports to Iran under a special license program, according to Yonhap News Agency.
On Monday, Seoul received the green light for the exports based on the US government’s General License No. 8 – a mechanism to authorize certain humanitarian transactions with Iran even if they involve Iran’s central bank subject to US sanctions.
“On April 6, the humanitarian export process based on the General License No. 8 got underway,” the official told reporters.
“Our companies and banks should prepare documents needed to carry out enhanced due diligence, and we think that the shipments may begin about a month later,” he added.
Apart from the licensed program, South Korea is also pushing for the Korean Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (KHTA), which uses an Iranian bank free from US sanctions – such as the Middle East Bank – to facilitate humanitarian transactions with the Islamic republic.
South Korea is also exploring ways to use the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement, a payment method designed to facilitate Swiss companies’ sales of food and medicine to Iran, to carry out its transactions with Iran.
“South Korea is pushing for all three methods,” the official said, noting that the General License No. 8 platform appears to be the fastest way to resume humanitarian exports to Iran, which has faced shortages of medicine and tools to fight the new coronavirus due to US sanctions.
Though humanitarian exports are not subject to sanctions, South Korean firms had difficulty resuming their sales of medicines and other products to Iran due to fears that they could be affected by the American sanctions.
Remarks by the South Korean Foreign Ministry official came days after the country’s embassy in Tehran in a Twitter message said that Seoul plans to send a medical consignment worth $2 million to Iran to help the Islamic Republic contain the coronavirus outbreak.
“Wishing for the eradication of the coronavirus disease and getting better days, the Republic of Korea intends to deliver a medical consignment worth $ 2 million from the Korean people to the Islamic Republic”, the embassy said in its message on Tuesday.
It added that medical items worth 200,000 dollars, including PCR sets and disinfectant pumps have already been delivered to Iran, the worst-hit country by the disease in the Middle East.
South Korea was one the hardest-hit countries outside China at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan in the Hubei Province. It has managed to drastically reduce the number of new coronavirus infections.
Several countries have so far shipped humanitarian aid to Iran which its economy has been damaged by the US sanctions reimposed in 2018 following Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Monday more than 30 countries, as well as a number of international organizations, have provided Iran with assistance in its battle against the coronavirus outbreak.
The pandemic, which has afflicted more than 200 countries worldwide so far, resulted in displays of solidarity by the international community and among Iranians, the spokesman said.
At the height of the virus outbreak in China, Iran sent several aid shipments to the country which has sent several humanitarian aid consignments to Iran.
Chinese government sent its ninth aid shipment to Iran on Monday. It has so far sent 28 planeloads of humanitarian aid to Iran from the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews