Iran said Monday "agreements" during a recent diplomatic visit over releasing blocked Iranian funds by a third country "is not up to Washington to decide."
Commenting on US State Department Spokesman Ned Price’s recent remarks over Iranian frozen funds at his weekly press briefing Monday, foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said a "delegation" had visited Tehran last week during which "certain agreements" were made. "This neither has anything to do with the US, nor we would allow the US to interfere in its details," he said defiantly.
Price said Thursday that all reports about Washington having agreed with the release of Iranian funds frozen by third countries were false.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman also indicated that Tehran was not going to offer any guarantees not to take revenge on American officials responsible for the Killing of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander, Ghasem Soleimani, in Baghdad on January 3, 2020, in return for Washington's delisting of the IRGC. "Bringing these individuals to justice is a fundamental principle in Iran's foreign policy," he said.
Negotiations in Vienna over reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement known as JCPOA came to a halt last month over a reported Iranian demand to remove its Revolutionary Guard from the US foreign terrorist designation. Media reports have mentioned that a US counter proposal asked Iran to renounce threats it made against former American officials for Soleimani’s killing.
Iranian officials and media said recently that Iran is set to recover $7 billion of its frozen assets "soon" independent of any outcome to the Vienna nuclear talks.
Khatibzadeh also categorically denied any relationship between unfreezing Iran's frozen assets and a possible Iran-US prisoner swap. "We separate humanitarian issues from debts," he claimed.
Iran has not revealed any details about the alleged diplomatic visit to free the blocked funds.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, however, on April 13 said that a foreign visit did take place the previous day and an agreement was made regarding Iranian money blocked in a "foreign bank". He made the announcement in a joint press conference with visiting Iraqi foreign minister Fuad Hussein, but his statement about the agreement did not refer to Baghdad.
Iraq is highly dependent on Iranian gas and electricity which it has continued to purchase thanks to Washington's regularly issued sanctions waivers. Baghdad, however, has not paid Iran for its energy imports due to US third-party sanctions that prohibit other countries to conduct financial transactions with Iran.
Payments for Iran’s gas and electricity imports by Iraq go to a special account in the state-owned Trade Bank of Iraq. Iran can only use the money for humanitarian commodities.
The amount of money frozen in Iraq banks was over $6 billion in September, and given that the amount has grown since then, it is quite possible that the $7 billion officials are promising to get released is money in Iraqi banks rather than South Korea which is also holding $7 billion of frozen Iranian assets.
Khatibzadeh on Monday also said that the 2015 nuclear deal has not been working for Iran for years. "Iran's economic benefits have been neglected for years. We are a responsible country, and we adhere to a commitment once we sign it," he said, adding that Tehran has its Plan B and C, regardless of the Vienna talks.
"Sanctions removal is a key issue in ministry of foreign affairs, but neutralizing sanctions has always been on the agenda too. Iran is continuing to neutralize sanctions according to its B and C plans," he said.