Iran has seized a South Korean-flagged vessel off its southern waters apparently in retaliation for South Korea's previous freezing of Iranian assets in South Korean banks based on US-led sanctions.
Tehran has confirmed that on Monday it detained the MT Hankuk Chemi tanker for what official statements called "oil pollution" - a common excuse Iranian officials often given when they take such action.
The Korean vessel was reportedly halted and seized by the elite IRGC Navy while the tanker was en route to the Emirate of Fujairah.
The IRGC Navy claimed the vessel was in "repeated violation of marine environmental regulations" for "carrying 7,200 tons of ethanol." Iranian state source Tasnim has indicated that the crew members are under arrest.
Meanwhile, this is what an official government account of the Islamic Republic tweeted just as the seizure of the vessel was ongoing.
#Iran is not satisfied with process of unfreezing assets in South Korea. South Korean deputy foreign minister will visit Iran soon.— IranGov.ir (@Iran_GOV) January 4, 2021
Iranian assets previously seized by South Korea are commonly estimated at up to $7 billion.
The tanker is now said to be in Iranian territorial waters at a moment tensions with the US and Israel are continuing to mount.
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