Iran Releases Seized South Korean Tanker: Seoul Foreign Ministry

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South Korean-flagged tanker being escorted by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards navy after being seized

Seoul:

Iran on Friday launched a South Korean-flagged tanker it seized amid a dispute over billions in frozen oil funds, and the vessel’s captain, the overseas ministry in Seoul mentioned.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the Hankuk Chemi and its multinational crew of 20 sailors in January, however South Korea’s overseas ministry mentioned in an announcement that its detention had been lifted and “the ship departed safely today”.

Ship-tracking web sites confirmed the 147-metre-long (482-foot) vessel beneath means at 9 knots and heading for the Strait of Hormuz.

At the time of the seizure Tehran mentioned the vessel was carrying 7,200 tons of “oil chemical products” and accused it of “repeated infringement of maritime environmental laws”.

The transfer got here after Tehran had urged Seoul to launch billions of {dollars} of Iranian belongings frozen in South Korea beneath US sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Tehran mentioned in February that every one the crew besides the captain could be allowed to go away the nation as a humanitarian gesture, however most of them remained on board to keep up the ship.

In the identical month Seoul mentioned the 2 had agreed on a means ahead to launch billions of {dollars} frozen from Iran’s oil gross sales — however that it was awaiting US approval.

Iran was a key oil provider to resource-poor South Korea till Washington’s guidelines blocked the purchases, and Tehran says it has a complete of $7 billion of funds blocked in Seoul.

– Vienna assembly –

Tehran agreed a multinational deal generally known as the JCPOA to curtail its nuclear programme in alternate for sanctions aid in 2015, however the accord was thrown into disarray three years later when the United States pulled out beneath then-president Donald Trump.

New US President Joe Biden has signalled his readiness to revive the accord and negotiators started assembly this week in Vienna to attempt to put it again on observe.

But Secretary of State Antony Blinken final month signalled Washington could be against releasing the funds blocked in South Korea except the Islamic republic returned to full compliance with the nuclear settlement.

South Korea’s overseas ministry made no point out of the cash in its assertion Friday.

But a number of South Korean media studies say Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun will go to Tehran quickly, with out giving a date for the journey.

No one on the vessel’s operator, DM transport, was instantly accessible for remark.

Tehran has repeatedly denied that the seizure of the vessel was linked to the funds difficulty.

The Hankuk Chemi incident was the primary seizure of a significant vessel by Iran’s naval forces in additional than a 12 months.

In July 2019, the Guards seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero within the Strait of Hormuz for allegedly ramming a fishing boat. They launched it two months later.

At the time it was broadly seen as a tit-for-tat transfer after authorities within the British abroad territory of Gibraltar detained an Iranian tanker and later launched it, regardless of US objections.

Tehran denied the 2 instances have been associated.

The Guards seized a minimum of six different ships in 2019 over alleged gas smuggling.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is printed from a syndicated feed.)

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