Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has called on Japan to show its independence from the US by releasing Tehran’s frozen funds that are subject to US sanctions. Raisi made the request during a press conference in Tehran on Tuesday, where he answered questions from foreign and domestic media.
Raisi said that Japan should act independently from the US by releasing Iran’s blocked funds, which he estimated at $1.5 billion. He said that Iran had good relations with Japan and hoped to expand cooperation in various fields.
However, Raisi also seemed to contradict himself when he said that the only unjustly frozen funds that Iran had were in South Korea, and that all other assets abroad were at the disposal of Iran’s Central Bank. He did not explain why he asked Japan to release the funds if they were not frozen.
Iran has been struggling with a severe economic crisis due to the US sanctions that were reimposed by former President Donald Trump after he withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018. The sanctions have cut off Iran’s access to billions of dollars of its oil revenues and other assets in foreign banks.
Iran has been negotiating with the US and other parties to the nuclear deal to revive the agreement and lift the sanctions, but the talks have stalled since June, when Raisi was elected as president. Raisi has taken a hardline stance on the nuclear issue and has demanded that the US lift all sanctions before Iran returns to full compliance with the deal.
Meanwhile, Iran has also reached an agreement with the US to free five American citizens who are detained in Iran in exchange for $6 billion of Iranian assets frozen in South Korea. The deal has faced criticism from both sides, as some US lawmakers and Iranian Americans have accused the Biden administration of paying ransom for hostages, while some Iranian hardliners have denounced it as a betrayal of national interests.