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Jan 06, 2021 / 15:02

Vietnam verifies its citizens in ship seizure case in Iran

Tehran said the seizure is merely environmental matters but not political motives.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is verifying the presence of Vietnamese sailors in a South Korea-flagged ship that has been seized in Iran.

 South Korean-flagged tanker Hankuk Chemi is escorted by Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats on the Persian Gulf. Photo: AP

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has contacted with the embassies of South Korea and Iran in Hanoi while the Vietnamese missions in South Korea and Iran have worked with local agencies and the owner of South Korean-flagged tanker Hankuk Chemi to verify the news, Spokesperson of the MOFA Le Thi Thu Hang said Wednesday [January 6].

Vietnam has asked related parties to secure safety for the sailors and soon solve the case, Ms. Hang said that the MOFA has also worked with the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Transport to identify the sailors and companies that are responsible for sending them abroad to ensure their legitimate rights.

“Vietnamese missions in South Korea and Iran will keep an eye on the case and take necessary citizen protection measures to ensure legitimate rights and interest for the sailors,” Ms. Hang said in a statement.

Iranian media reported on Monday that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Gulf waters and detained 20 crewmembers that probably include two Vietnamese nationals among South Koreans, Indonesians, and Burmese.

The seizure happens amid tensions between Tehran and Seoul over Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks due to US sanctions.

Seoul confirmed the seizure of a South Korean chemical tanker by Iranian authorities in the waters off Oman, and demanded its immediate release.

Meanwhile, several Iranian media outlets, including state TV, said the Guards navy captured the vessel for polluting the Gulf with chemicals.

“According to initial reports by local officials, it is purely a technical matter and the ship was taken to shore for polluting the sea,” state television quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency published pictures showing the Guards’ speed boats escorting the tanker Hankuk Chemi, which it said was carrying 7,200 tons of ethanol.

British firm Ambrey said the South Korean-flagged vessel, owned by DM Shipping Co, had departed from the Petroleum Chemical Quay in Jubail, in Saudi Arabia, before the incident. The chemical tanker had been detained in the Strait of Hormuz while inbound to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, Reuters reported.