The South Korean-flagged chemical tanker HANKUK CHEMI has diverted from its course northwards while inbound to Fujairah from Al Jubail, UAE, triggering fears that it has been detained by Iranian forces.
This is an officially unconfirmed case, as the precise details of the incident remain unclear. Data from maritime security firm Dryad Global suggests there are 23 crew members onboard HANKUK CHEMI, comprising of Indonesian and Burmese nationals.
The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, an information exchange overseen by the British royal navy in the region, acknowledged an “interaction” between a merchant vessel and Iranian authorities.
If it is confirmed, this incident comes at a time of increased tension throughout the region. Iran has recently announced it is starting to enrich uranium up to 20%, a step towards nuclear weapons.
Similarly, on December 31, a limpet mine was discovered attached to the hull of the Liberian flagged M/T POLA in Al Bakr Oil Terminal.
The placement of mines and the detention of vessels within the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman is activity previously attributed to Iranian forces. The year 2019 was actually a period of diplomatic tensions vastly affecting shipping and causing insecurity and disruptions along major shipping routes. Find a timeline of key events here.
By creating conditions of insecurity, Iran seeks to destabilise existing rules of law and order, challenging the Saudi and American coalitions which militarily control much of the Middle East,
…Dryad Global explained.