The IRGC Navy announced that it had seized Hankuk Chemi, a South Korean-flagged tanker, and detained its crew of twenty because of “environmental and chemical pollution concerns”, for which Iran asked for compensation. The incident occurred in the Strait of Hormuz. The South Korean government called for “the early release of the ship”. A U.S. diplomatic spokesperson maintained that Iran “continues to threaten navigational rights and freedoms in the Persian Gulf as part of a clear attempt to extort the international community into relieving the pressure of sanctions. We join the Republic of Korea’s call for Iran to immediately release the tanker”. An Iranian government spokesperson subsequently argued that “if there is any hostage-taking, it is Korea’s government that is holding $7 billion, which belongs to us, hostage”.
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