Armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops stormed a South Korean tanker and forced the ship to change course and travel to Iran, the vessel’s owner said Tuesday, the latest maritime seizure by Tehran amid heightened tensions with the West over its nuclear program.
The military raid on Monday on the MT Hankuk Chemi was at odds with Iranian explanations that they stopped the vessel for polluting the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
Instead, it appeared Iran sought to increase its leverage over Seoul ahead of negotiations over billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks.
“If anybody is to be called a hostage taker, it is the South Korean government that has taken our more than $7 billion hostage under a futile pretext,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said.
Iran on Monday also began enriching uranium up to 20 percent, a small technical