The MT Hankuk Chemi, a tanker of South Korea, seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran alleged that the tanker was polluting the sea. The tanker was carrying 7,200 tons of ethanol. All 20 crew members are detained.
Iranian funds worth $7 bn are frozen in the South Korea bank from the September 2019 when the exemptions from the US sanctions expired. There was senior diplomat visit to Tehran on Sunday as planned but it is unclear now whether Vice Foreign minister Choi Jong-Kun will be visiting or not as told by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.
South Korea and Iran are in talks for using the frozen funds to purhase COVID-19 vaccines from a global procurement system. South Korea is seeking exemption from the US Treasury Department for using the funds on humanitarian grounds. Last month, the US green signalled Iran to purchase of vaccine but via the COVAX facility. Iran is sceptical on the conversion won into dollars as they are uncertain how the US will handle the funds.
This is the second seizure of tanker by Iran within a year. Earlier, Iran seized the British flagged cargo ship, Stena Impero.