Today, Tuesday, the South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to Seoul to protest Iran’s seizure of an oil tanker flying the South Korean flag, whose owner announced that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had stormed.
The South Korean “Yonhap” news agency reported that the Director of the Department of Africa and Middle East Affairs at the ministry Ko Kyung-sook, during his meeting with Iranian Ambassador Saeed Badamchi Shabstari, expressed his regret for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ detention of the oil tanker “Hankook Kimi”, asking him to release her as soon as possible.
Today, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa confirmed that her country is making a diplomatic effort to release the tanker held in Iran very soon.
Regarding analyzes according to which the motives for the detention are the freezing of the funds of Iran’s central bank account in a Korean bank, she said, “It is too early to talk about the motives at the present time,” adding that “the urgent matter is to ensure the safety of the tanker crew.”
For his part, Ambassador Shabstari said – in response to journalists’ questions upon his arrival at the ministry – that “all the sailors are safe,” and that “there is no need to worry about their safety.” However, he did not comment on the reasons for the detention and the date of release of the tanker.
The Associated Press (ASSOCIATED PRESS) reported that the ship’s owner said today that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces stormed it and forced it to change course and travel to Iran.
The agency also quoted a South Korean official, who refused to be named, as saying, “The Iranian forces said at first that they wanted to conduct an unspecified inspection on the ship, and when its captain spoke to the company’s security officials in South Korea, the Iranian armed forces stormed the tanker while one of its helicopters circled overhead.” “.
A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said yesterday, Monday, that according to the initial reports that the ministry received from the local authorities, the matter is “technical and the oil tanker was arrested by order of the court to conduct an investigation into its pollution of the sea.”
The oil tanker “Hankook Kimi” was on its way from the port of “Jubail” in Saudi Arabia to the Emirates, and was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards at 3:20 pm on Monday (Korean time). There were 20 sailors on board, including 5 South Korean sailors.
The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Middle East conducts routine patrols in the region alongside a US-led coalition monitoring the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of the world’s oil passes.