In response to the unconfirmed seizure of a South Korean chemical tanker by Iranian authorities in the waters off Oman, Seoul confirmed the vessel’s detention and demanded its immediate release.
Specifically, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps seized the South Korean-flagged tanker “HANKUK CHEMI” in Gulf waters and detained its crew.
According to data from maritime security firm Dryad Global, there are 23 crew members onboard the tanker, comprising of Indonesian and Burmese nationals.
What is more, several Iranian media outlets stated that the Guards navy captured the vessel for polluting the Gulf with chemicals, while the tanker is being held at Iran’s Bandar Abbas port city.
“According to initial reports by local officials, it is purely a technical matter and the ship was taken to shore for polluting the sea,” …as Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said.
Following the situation, the U.S. State Department called for Iran to release the tanker immediately, Reuters agency reported.
In addition, this incident comes at a time of increased tension throughout the region. In fact, Iran has recently announced it is starting to enrich uranium up to 20%, a step towards nuclear weapons.
Concluding, the detention comes ahead of a scheduled visit by South Korea’s deputy foreign minister to Tehran. Khatibzadeh told Reuters that the visit would happen in coming days, during which officials would discuss Iran’s demand that South Korea release $7 billion in funds frozen in South Korean banks because of U.S. sanctions.