The Iranian government on Tuesday denied that it is holding a South Korean-flagged tanker and its crew hostage, retorting that South Korea is the “hostage” taker for freezing $7 billion in Iranian funds after the United States re-imposed sanctions against Tehran.
The tanker Hankuk Chemi was seized in the Persian Gulf on Monday by a swarm of speedboats operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated terrorist organization. The ship and its crew of 20 were taken to the IRGC port facility in Bandar Abbas and detained, ostensibly because the ship was “polluting” the Persian Gulf. The company that operates the tanker, DM Shipping Co. Ltd., dismissed those allegations as “absurd.”
The South Korean government protested the seizure of the ship, underlining its protest by dispatching an anti-piracy squad called the Cheonghae Unit to the Persian Gulf. South Korean officials told CNN on Tuesday that the Cheonghae Unit,