Iranian Military Guards have captured a chemical tanker “Hankuk Chemi” in the Strait of Hormuz and detained its crew, Iranian media reported this Tuesday. In the Strait of Hormuz, an interaction took place between the chemical tanker and the Iranian National Guards.
The Iranian port of Bandar Abbas was occupied and the seizure was being investigated for oil pollution. The South Korean tanker was seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and taken to the Iranian port, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday, which confirmed that the hijacked vessel was the ship that was brought to the Bandars-Abbas port in Iran.
Iranian state media and also several other media agencies reported that the ship was hijacked by the Guard Navy to “pollute the Gulf with chemicals.” The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), an international organization responsible for monitoring maritime safety in the region, says, “The interaction between a chemical tanker and Iranian authorities took place this morning (4th January) in the Strait of Hormuz”.
7,200 tonnes of ethanol was carried in the vessel and the arrested crew members were from Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia. Later it came to light that, there is an issue of billions of dollars of Iranian assets frozen in Seoul, to be negotiated between Iran and Korea in upcoming days, so the tanker was seized, in all probability, in an attempt to gain more leverage in the forthcoming talks. Iran’s Foreign Ministry hinted on Monday that they are planning to take up negotiations with South Korea to discuss Iran’s demand of $7 billion worth of funds frozen in South Korean banks because of U.S. sanctions.
[UPDATED] The South Korean Foreign Ministry in a press release has announced that military forces have been dispatched to the disputed region. The Cheonghae Unit will be deployed to secure the safety of other South Korean ships.