South Korea is aware of Iran’s seizure of its merchant ship and has asked for the vessel to be released and for the safety of the crew as soon as possible, RIA Novosti reported, citing the country’s Foreign Ministry.
Earlier, the British Organization for the Coordination of Maritime Trade reported that Iran had intercepted a foreign merchant ship. The AP agency specified that the vessel in question was the South Korean oil tanker MT Hankuk Chemi. Iran later confirmed the detention, attributing it to alleged “oil pollution” in the Persian Gulf and the Strait.
“The South Korean Foreign Ministry and our country’s embassy in Iran learned of the detention of our ship and requested (security, – ed.) for the ship’s crew and the speedy release of the ship … There are a total of 20 people, including five South Korean citizens, onboard the ship,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.
The Defense Ministry, after confirming reports of the incident, dispatched the Cheonghae unit, which was established by the Navy to protect civilian ships off the Somali coast from pirates to waters near the Strait of Hormuz.