Iran releases Korean ship held in controversy over funds


Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In a multi-billion dollar conflict seized by Seoul, Iran’s months-held South Korean oil tanker was released and set sail early Friday. Tattered nuclear trade.

Data from MarineTraffic.com show that MT Hankuk Chemi leaves Bandar Abbas early in the morning.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it released the tanker and its captain after Iran seized the ship in January. According to the ministry, Hankuk Kemi left the port of Iran around 6 am local time after completing administrative procedures.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, later confirmed that Iran had released the ship.

“At the request of the shipowner and the South Korean government, an order to release the ship was issued by the prosecutor,” Katib Zade was reportedly said by the state-owned IRNA news agency.

DM Shipping Co in Busan, South Korea, the owner of the ship. Ltd. was not immediately asked for comment.

Hankuk Kemi from a petrochemical facility in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, in the United Arab Emirates when the Armed Revolutionary Guards attacked a ship in January and was forced to divert the ship to move to Iran. I was moving to Fujairah.

Iran has accused MT Hank Kukemi of contaminating water in important straits of the Strait of Hormuz. However, the seizure was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Seoul to release billions of dollars in Iran’s assets detained by South Korean banks amid severe US sanctions on Iran. Iran released 20 crew members in February, but continued to detain the ship and its captain, demanding that South Korea unlock frozen Iranian assets.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry did not acknowledge the fund’s dispute when it announced the release of the ship, and Khatibzadeh only said that the captain and tankers had good records in the area.

However, South Korean foreign affairs officials said Seoul’s willingness to resolve the issue of Iran’s assets detained in South Korea, subject to regulatory anonymity, was a “plus to the decision to release Iran’s vessels. It may have had an impact. “

Officials say Iran seeks to resolve the dispute as it becomes clear that the problem is “not just South Korea’s capabilities and efforts” and is “entangled” with negotiations over Tehran’s return to the founding nuclear deal. He said he acknowledged South Korea’s attempt.

Unfreezing funds requires the consent of various countries, including the United States, which imposed drastic sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sector in 2018. Officials said South Korea is in close contact with other countries over frozen Iranian assets.

In January, the United Nations said Iran was at the top of the list of countries funding global organizations with bills of at least $ 16 million. If unpaid, Iran may lose voting rights as required by the Charter of the United Nations.

“Significant progress is expected in paying UN membership fees,” the South Korean Yonhap News Agency quoted an unnamed Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs official. “Since resuming humanitarian trade with Iran in April last year, we have also exported about $ 30 million worth of medical devices.”

Development began as Iran and the world’s powers resume negotiations in Vienna on Friday to break the conflict over US sanctions for Iran and Iran’s breach of the nuclear deal. The 2015 nuclear deal, which then President Donald Trump abandoned three years later, provided relief from sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on nuclear development programs.

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Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyun of Seoul and Amir Badat of Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.

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