The Biden administration is working to free billions of dollars in Iranian assets currently frozen in South Korea, the country’s Yonhap news agency reported on Tuesday.
There is currently about $7 billion in Iranian assets frozen in two banks based in Seoul, blocked by U.S. economic sanctions. Korea’s foreign ministry confirmed on Tuesday that a deal had been reached to free those assets.
“Our government has been in talks with Iran about ways to use the frozen assets, and the Iran side has expressed its consent to the proposals we have made,” the ministry said in a statement. “The actual unfreezing of the assets will be carried out through consultations with related countries, including the United States.”
Tensions rose between the two countries after Iran seized a South Korean oil tanker in early January. South Korea’s foreign ministry has denied the seizure is linked to the frozen assets.
The report comes as the White House attempts to recalibrate its policy toward Iran from the Trump administration. Iran threatened on Monday to raise its uranium enrichment limits closer to levels necessary to produce nuclear weapons, and announced it would cease allowing snap inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Meanwhile, a U.S. led base in northern Iraq was attacked last week by possible Iran-backed militias, and the U.S. embassy in Iraq was also apparently targeted in a rocket attack. The Biden administration has issued verbal condemnation of the attacks but said it will not “lash out” in response.