Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi instructed the ministries of commerce and economy to ban imports from South Korea’s home appliances companies, following orders from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Khamenei’s orders came in response to a request by several domestic home appliance manufacturing companies to prevent the import of foreign-made home appliances into the country, a reference to Samsung and LG.
Khamenei has long stressed the importance of supporting internal production and avoiding the import of products similar to Iranian-manufactured goods.
“A potential return of foreign brands of home appliances, including two of South Korea’s companies, to the Iranian market would be a huge blow to local manufacturers and their expansion projects,” Khamenei’s letter read.
Ties between Iran and South Korea have been shaken over an estimated $7 billion in Iranian funds frozen because of US sanctions.
Iran was a key oil supplier to resource-poor South Korea until Washington’s rules blocked the purchases.
South Korea’s imports of Iranian oil have been zero since May 2019, when the US revoked waivers which had allowed some countries to continue buying Iranian oil without falling foul of its sanctions.
The United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after former President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal to lift them in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran calls the US sanctions economic warfare.
Iran and South Korea held talks to facilitate the release of funds, after US President Joe Biden’s administration said it wants to revive the nuclear deal with Tehran and lift economic sanctions.
In January, Tehran seized a South Korean oil tanker and its crew in strategic Gulf waters after accusing it of “repeated infringement of maritime environmental laws.”
Tehran attempted to pressure Seoul to hand it over billions of dollars of its assets but then released the tanker in April.