Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps seized a South Korean-flagged tanker
Seoul confirmed the seizure of a South Korean chemical tanker by Iranian authorities in the waters off Oman, and demanded its immediate release.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Gulf waters and detained its crew, Iranian media said on Monday, amid tensions between Tehran and Seoul over Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks due to U.S. sanctions.
Several Iranian media outlets, including state TV, said the Guards navy captured the vessel for polluting the Gulf with chemicals.
State television quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying:
“According to initial reports by local officials, it is purely a technical matter and the ship was taken to shore for polluting the sea.”
The semi-official Tasnim news agency published pictures showing the Guards’ speed boats escorting the tanker HANKUK CHEMI, which it said was carrying 7,200 tonnes of ethanol.
It said the vessel’s detained crew members included nationals of South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar. Iran’s state TV said the tanker was being held at Iran’s Bandar Abbas port city. The ship had 20 crew members, according to South Korea’s foreign ministry.
The incident comes ahead of an expected visit by South Korea’s deputy foreign minister to Tehran. Khatibzadeh said 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.