Iran dispels rumors about South Korean ship, says legal proceedings underway

January 17, 2021 - 19:40

TEHRAN - Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, has responded to rumors about the possible release of a South Korean ship recently impounded by Iran for technical reasons.

In a statement on Saturday, the spokesman said that legal proceedings are underway into the case of the South Korean ship seized by Iran for environmental concerns.

“Legal proceedings are underway into the case of the South Korean ship seized in the Persian Gulf waters upon a judicial order due to polluting the environment,” he noted. “So, any developments in the case are subject to decisions by judicial officials.”

Khatibzadeh stated that any decision by Iran on the ship would be merely announced by the Iranian Judiciary’s spokesperson.

“The stances and decisions of the Judiciary are merely announced by its spokesperson, and any remarks made in this regard by people other than relevant authorities have no legal grounds,” he asserted.

On January 4, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) impounded the MT Hankuk Chemi carrying 20 crew members, including five South Koreans, for polluting the environment. Following the seizure, Khatibzadeh said that the South Korean ship’s seizure was “a total technical issue.”

“Based on initial reports coming from local authorities, the issue is completely technical, and the vessel was led ashore upon a judicial order because the vessel had been polluting the sea,” the spokesman said in a statement following the seizure of the ship.

“Like other countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran is sensitive about such offenses, especially polluting the marine environment; so, it deals with such offenses in accordance with the law,” he continued. “This was not an exceptional incident, and similar incidents had earlier occurred in Iran and in other countries’ waters, and it is something usual, and further information will be announced accordingly.”

Last week, a senior South Korean diplomat traveled to Iran in a bid to secure the release of the ship. The diplomat, Choi Jong-kun, held talks with several Iranian officials over a range of issues including Iran’s seizure of the South Korean ship in the Strait of Hormuz. But the talks ended in failure.

Iran also castigated South Korea for its move to politicize the issue of the seized ship, saying the country’s behavior was not understandable.

“The South Korean government’s behavior in this regard is not understandable and is rejected,” Khatibzadeh said. “We urge the Korean government to deal with this technical issue logically and responsibly.”


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