South Korea is dispatching a delegation to Iran today to seek the release of a tanker seized in Gulf waters by Iranian forces, Reuters reported.
Seoul’s foreign ministry has also called in the Iranian ambassador to South Korea for a meeting and urged the early release of the South Korean-flagged tanker and its crew of 20.
The ship was carrying a cargo of more than 7,000 tonnes of ethanol when it was seized on Monday by Iranian forces.
Iranian media claimed the tanker was seized due to pollution violations. The move comes as tensions are rising between Tehran and Seoul over Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks due to the US sanctions.
“The incident comes as Iran shows increasing signs of willingness to assert its claims in the region as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office later this month, succeeding Donald Trump,” Reuters said.
On Monday Tehran also said it had resumed 20% uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear facility, a clear sign Tehran is breaching its entire commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on Tehran in 2018 after Washington withdrew from the deal with Iran and six major powers.