South Korea imposed fresh sanctions Friday on Iran due to its suspected nuclear weapons program, limiting financial deals with 99 Iranian groups and six individuals from the Middle Eastern country.
The entities join 102 groups and 24 individuals the Seoul government designated in September last year as subject to a ban on financial transactions, the finance ministry said.
Those on the blacklist will require approval from South Korea’s central bank before having any foreign currency transactions, it said.
The ministry, however, stopped short of halting imports of petrochemical goods and crude oil. Instead, it plans to ask domestic companies to exercise caution in deals related to petrochemical products from Tehran.
Last month, the U.S. and other countries unveiled sanctions on Iran’s financial, petrochemical and energy sectors following a United Nations report that Tehran is researching nuclear weapons.
Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, reportedly met with a senior finance ministry official during his recent visit to Seoul to ask South Korea to join the sanctions.
The request put South Korea in a difficult position, since sanctions could lead to strained economic and business relations with Iran, which exports large amounts of oil to South Korea every year.
Observers, however, see the latest sanctions as less tough than expected since both crude oil and petrochemical products were excluded from trade restrictions.
“There will be no disruptions from the latest measures in importing crude oil (from Iran),” a high-ranking finance ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.