In a major development, the South Korean delegation who were supposed to be in Iran on Sunday to discuss the seized tanker issue left for Iran today.
Discussion With All Parties To Resolve the Issue
On Monday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a South Korean tanker Hankuk Chemi citing environmental violations. The tanker was carrying 7200 tonnes of oil chemical products which supposedly breached maritime environmental laws said Iran’sRevolutionary Guards
They further revealed that the arrested seafarers of Hankuk Chemi are primarily from South Korea while some others are from Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
The delegation team sent by Middle Eastern Affairs department of the South Korean foreign ministry is slated arrive in Tehran via Doha
Before boarding the plane, the chief of the team, Mr Koh Kyung-sok said he plans to meet his counterpart at the Iranian foreign ministry and will also meet others through various routes if it will help the efforts to resolve the issue of the ship’s seizure.
Iran Funds Stuck in South Korea
The ship was seized by Iran after South Korea didn’t pay any heed to release the 7 billion dollar frozen funds because of US sanctions.
Iran had been the key oil supplier of South Korea before the US intervened and blocked purchases. To resolve this deadlock, the South Korean vice foreign minister will be making a scheduled Iran visit next week.
Presently, Iran has “US$7 billion (S$9.24 billion) of deposits in South Korea” that can neither “be transferred nor do we get any returns on, while they ask us for the costs” of holding the funds, said Iran’s central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati.
Previous Ship Seizing Incidents
2 years ago, Iran made similar attempts of seizing ships by taking the British tanker Stena Impero into custody for alleged damage to a fishing boat. They were released after 2 months of negotiations.
It was then that global authorities took cognition of Iran’s tit-for-tat strategy as the British territory Gibraltar had detained an Iranian tanker just before that. The tanker was later released after the US objected to its detention. However, Tehran had said that the cases unrelated during that time
Several other seizures happened in 2019 as Iran seized 6 ships over fuel smuggling issues.