The Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s seizure of a South Korean oil tanker sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries. Seoul summoned the Iranian ambassador and demanded the release of the twenty crew members who had been arrested.
The vessel was detained in the Strait of Hormuz yesterday, allegedly due to an oil spill. At that time, the tanker was on its way from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates.
But according to South Korean media, the confiscation came in response to the freezing of about $ 7 billion in Iranian assets as a result of the US sanctions against Tehran.
South Korea itself is being held hostage
An Iranian government spokesman criticized South Korea this morning, stating that it is not Iran, but South Korea is guilty of the hostage-taking, referring to the frozen assets. According to Yonhap News, Tehran wants to try to replace the captured crew members with the withheld billions.
Seoul is trying to calm things down by sending a diplomatic delegation to Iran. The deputy foreign minister will also raise the issue next week during his visit to Tehran, which was already scheduled before the incident.
The seizure came shortly after it was announced that Iran wants to intensify uranium enrichment in violation of the 2015 international nuclear agreement. Iranian expert Biman Jafari referred to the two events yesterday as a means for the Iranian regime to force the outside world to drop the sanctions imposed on the country and negotiate a new nuclear agreement.
This morning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called on all the signatories to the nuclear agreement to remain calm and exercise restraint. I heard previous words about enrichment from relevant countries as well as Japan and Israel.
The European Union wants to save the deal
Nevertheless, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is determined to actually intensify uranium enrichment. He left yesterday Via Twitter You know that this step is reversible, once the other signatories to the nuclear deal fulfill their obligations, such as removing economic sanctions.
A spokesman for the European Union said that efforts to save the agreement would be multiplied. “After all, salvation from the deal is in everyone’s interest.”
Last year, Iran withdrew completely from the deal, in response to the US liquidation of Iranian General Soleimani in Iraq. The team surrounding incoming president Biden has previously said they want to return to the 2015 agreement, but it is not known under any terms.