The Iran Project

Iran frees crew members of seized South Korean oil tanker

Iran has released the crew members of a South Korean oil tanker detained last month in the Persian Gulf for violating international maritime law.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Tuesday that the decision to release the members of the crew aboard the South Korean ship was taken “on humanitarian grounds” and the released crew are now allowed to leave the country.

“Following the request of the South Korean government and the assistance of the [Iranian] Judiciary within the framework of judicial regulations, the crew of the South Korean ship, which was detained on charges of environmental pollution in the Persian Gulf, have received the permission of the Islamic Republic of Iran received to leave the country in a humanitarian move.”

Khatibzadeh added, the judicial probe into the violation of the rules by the ship and the captain continues within the framework of the law.

On January 4, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Navy impounded the South Korean-flagged MT Hankuk Chemi tanker upon a request by Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization and a verdict by the prosecutor office of Hormozgan province, for repeated violations of maritime environmental law.

Talks on releasing frozen assets continue

Khatibzadeh also pointed to a recent telephone conversation between Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi and his South Korean counterpart, Choi Jong-kun, over the illegally-frozen assets of Tehran by Seoul over the fear of the US sanctions.

He said during the talk, the Iranian side underlined the need to free the country’s assets as soon as possible, and the Korean side stressed the will of his respective government and the maximum effort to remove restrictions on these resources.

Last month, Araghchi warned that Seoul should not submit to the extortionist policies of the White House in regards with Iran’s blocked money.

“For about two and a half years, South Korean banks have illegally frozen Iran’s foreign exchange assets over what they describe as fear of US sanctions. This measure, which is only due to submission to US extortionist policies, is not acceptable,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister said.

Araqchi added that further expansion of relations between Tehran and Seoul would be only possible in the event that this problem is solved.

Iranian authorities have said on several occasions that they expect South Korea to do more on the release of nearly $8.5 billion blocked illegally in two South Korean banks under the pretext of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

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