After much turmoil and negotiations, Iran has finally released the 19 crew members of the South Korean ship. However, the captain of the vessel hasn’t been released.
South Korea is strategizing on bringing the crew home as the pandemic travel restrictions make it difficult.
Released After Negotiations
The South Korean government had requested for the 20 member crew of the South Korean ship that Iran detained a month ago, alleging some environmental violations.
The South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun had a telephonic conversation with his Iranian counterpart Seyyed Abbas Araghchi regarding the matter and then Iran released the crew.
The ship had 11 Myanmarese seafarers, 2 Vietnamese seafarers, 2 Indonesian seafarers and 5 South Korean seafarers. All of them have been released except the South Korean captain who has to remain with his ship till the investigation of the alleged environmental violations aren’t complete.
Islamic Revolution Guards had seized the vessel in the Strait of Hormuz back in January due to environmental violations although they couldn’t provide any evidence behind the allegations
The South Korean Vice Foreign Minister had urged for prompt action but that didn’t happen and 2 sides went on to discuss the matter further. South Korea agreed to discuss Iran’s frozen assets which seems to have thawed the ice
Rebuilding Relations With Iran
“Even though it’s not very clear whether the money was released or not. But what’s really important is that Iran and Korea have rebuilt the confidence and trust with each other”, says experts.
South Korea had said it will communicate with the US along with independently working for the release of the seafarers
However Iran had repeatedly stated that the ship was detained due to technical issues and it wasn’t linked to the 7 billion US dollars frozen assets in South Korea. The assets were sealed after US imposed sanctions on Iran under the Trump regime. However the Biden administration is working towards thawing the ice and to rebuild relations with Iran.