November 26, 2014 / 3:36 AM / 5 years ago

South Korea makes $500 million oil payment to Iran - sources

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea has transferred $500 million (318 million pounds) to Iran to pay for crude oil imports under an interim nuclear deal that provides limited relief from sanctions, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The interim accord between Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Britain and Russia was extended on Monday for seven months to allow for more talks to reach a full deal after the six powers failed again to resolve their 12-year stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Tehran will be able to continue to access around $700 million per month in sanctions relief.

“We had to play our role, as the international community agreed to unblock some of Iran’s assets,” said one of the sources, who had direct knowledge of the money transfer.

South Korea, China, India and Japan are the biggest buyers of Iranian crude.

Including the latest payment, South Korea has paid $1.05 billion to Tehran so far this year.

Under the interim accord, Tehran halted higher-level uranium enrichment in exchange for a limited easing of the financial and trade sanctions which have badly damaged its economy, including access to some frozen oil revenues abroad.

Iran and the six power agreed in July to extend the six-month interim accord until November 24 and Iran would receive $2.8 billion during the four-month extension of its funds held in foreign banks, in addition to $4.2 billion paid during the January-July period.

Tehran dismisses Western fears that its nuclear programme might have military aims, saying it is for peaceful energy only. However, the six powers want to curb its uranium enrichment further to lengthen the time Iran would need to build a bomb.

Additional reporting by Yena Park; Writing by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Ed Davies

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