US sanctions halt S. Korea's medical trade with Iran: Report
South Korea announced it is in talks with the United States over Iran's demand for Seoul's resumption of exports of humanitarian goods to Tehran after US sanctions have virtually halted such trade, Yonhap News Agency reported.
"Tehran called in the South Korean ambassador to Iran to lodge a complaint, urging Seoul to resume humanitarian trade with the country," the agency quoted a local daily reporting on Saturday.
"The Iranian side expressed its position that it hopes for the humanitarian trade to be resumed and is discussing the matter with us," an unnamed South Korean foreign ministry official was quoted saying.
"We are in talks with Iran and the U.S. frequently so that the shipments of humanitarian goods like medical supplies can be resumed using the won-based transaction system."
Iran has denounced the US sanctions including on its oil exports to Korea as "economic terrorism" and resumed its uranium enrichment program after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal.
Officials from the foreign, finance and industry ministries in Korea reportedly visited Washington last week and held talks with U.S. officials over the issue, Yonhap reported according to sources familiar with the matter. "In June, Seoul officials visited Washington to ask for U.S. cooperation on the export of humanitarian goods to Iran."
After the US decided in April this year to end sanctions waivers for imports of Iranian oil, South Korean companies have faced difficulties in selling medicine, medical equipment, and other humanitarian products to Iran through a bilateral transaction system using the Korean currency, the won.
The Central Bank of Iran has won-based accounts at Woori Bank and the Industrial Bank of Korea in Seoul for payments of oil imports as wells products that are not subject to sanctions, the report by Yonhap said.