Iran Seizes South Korean Oil Tanker in Gulf; Seoul Dispatches Forces

Iranian media says the vessel en route to UAE, Saudi Arabia, had been seized by the country's elite Revolutionary Guards navy for 'polluting the Gulf with chemicals'

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A South Korean-flagged tanker vessel which was seized by Iran is seen in the Persian Gulf, January 4, 2021
A South Korean-flagged tanker vessel which was seized by Iran is seen in the Persian Gulf, January 4, 2021Credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/ REUTERS

A South Korean-flagged tanker has been seized by Iran, media sources from the country said on Monday.

Iranian media first reported that the vessel had been seized by the country's elite Revolutionary Guards navy for polluting the Gulf with chemicals.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry later confirmed that South Korean chemical tanker had been seized by Iranian authorities in the waters off Oman, and demanded its immediate release.

South Korean forces stationed in the Strait of Hormuz have been dispatched to the area, the ministry said in a statement.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) naval authority earlier said on its website that an "interaction" between Iranian authorities and a merchant vessel in the Strait of Hormuz led the ship to alter its course and proceed into Iranian waters.

British maritime security firm Ambrey identified the vessel as South Korean-flagged tanker HANKUK CHEMI and said it appeared to have been seized and had since been tracked inside Iranian territorial waters headed towards Bandar Abbas.

Ambrey said the vessel, owned by DM Shipping Co, had departed from the Petroleum Chemical Quay in Jubail in Saudi Arabia before the incident. 

Maritime security firm Dryad Global said on its website that chemical tanker HANKUK CHEMI has "likely been detained by Iranian forces" in the Strait of Hormuz while inbound to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV earlier cited unnamed sources as saying a South Korean-flagged tanker carrying chemicals had been seized by Iran.

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