Iran says marine pollution behind detention of Korean tanker

Iran has seized a South Korean chemical tanker Hankuk Chemi citing oil pollution in the Persian Gulf.

The tanker was reportedly underway to Fujairah, in the UAE, from the Saudi city of Al-Jubail on Monday when it got detained.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said the reason behind the detainment was strictly technical and that the vessel was led ashore following a judicial order issued due to the pollution of the sea caused by the tanker.

The vessel has 23 crew members of Indonesian, South Korean, Vietnamese, and Burmese nationality on board.

“The precise details of the incident remain unclear. This latest incident comes at a time of increased tension throughout the region,” Dryad Global said.

In particular, the tensions stem from South Korea’s refusal to release Iranian oil-revenue from South Korean banks. This has resulted in hostilities from the Iranian side as Teheran believes the decision to keep what is estimated to be up to $7 billion in frozen assets is unacceptable.

Confirming the seizure, South Korean Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the ship was sailing from Oman to the Strait of Hormuz when it was detained.

The ship is said to be docked at Bandar Abbas, with all its crew members reported to be safe.

The ministry added that it has been making various efforts to lift the vessel detention and its crew through diplomatic channels.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to make its utmost efforts for the prompt release of detention of the vessel and the safe return of all of our people,” the ministry said.

Separately, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said it was sending its anti-piracy unit near the Strait of Hormuz, which is a 4,400-ton-class destroyer with about 300 troops, the Associated Press reported.

South Korea is planning to dispatch a working-level delegation to Iran to try to resolve the issue locally via bilateral talks.

 

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