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Iran MP says unfreezing funds may help release of South Korean ship

AT SEA - JANUARY 04: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY – MANDATORY CREDIT - "ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) A photo shows the South Korean-flagged tanker being escorted by Iran's Revolutionary Guards navy after being seized in the Gulf. The Naval Command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that it has seized a South Korean-flagged oil tanker. It was stated that the ship going to South Korea from Saudi Arabia's Al Jubail Commercial Sea Port was carrying 7,200 tons of ethanol and was towed to Bandar Abbas Port. ( Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - Anadolu Agency )
South Korean-flagged tanker being escorted by Iran's Revolutionary Guards navy after being seized in the Gulf [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps/Anadolu Agency]

A move by South Korea towards releasing $7 billion in frozen Iranian funds may help spur Iran's judiciary to resolve the seizure of a Korean ship being held for alleged environmental pollution, a senior Iranian lawmaker said on Friday, Reuters reported.

Earlier this month South Korea's vice foreign minister held talks in Tehran on the release of the South Korean-flagged MT Hankuk Chemi, which was seized on Jan. 4 by Iran's Revolutionary Guards near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

"Although the Korean ship's seizure was only due to environmental pollution…, Korean action in expediting the return of Iran's blocked funds may affect the judiciary's decision in resolving the ship's seizure," lawmaker Mojtaba Zolnour was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

READ: South Korea seeks Qatar's help for release of oil tanker seized by Iran 

Zolnour, chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security committee, spoke in a virtual meeting with the head of South Korean parliament's foreign affairs and unification committee, IRNA said.

Iran has denied allegations that the seizure of the tanker and its 20-member crew amounted to hostage-taking, and said it was Seoul that was holding the Iranian funds "hostage".

The freezing of some $7 billion of Iranian funds is linked to U.S. sanctions which Washington reimposed on Tehran in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

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Asia & AmericasIranMiddle EastNewsSouth Korea
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