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Iran seizes South Korean tanker in Gulf waters

IRGC guards seized the South Korean vessel as Iranian funds remain frozen in the Asian country's banks due to US sanctions
Pictures posted by Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency showed Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps boats escorting the South Korean-flagged vessel (Reuters)

Iran seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Gulf waters on Monday as tensions mount between the two countries over Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks due to US sanctions. 

Iranian state TV reported that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) captured the vessel because it was allegedly polluting the Gulf with chemicals. 

Images posted by Iran's semi-official Tasnim agency showed IRGC guard speedboats escorting the Hankuk Chemi tanker.

Tasnim said that the ship carried 7,200 tonnes of ethanol and was taken to Iran's Bandar Abbas Port City. 

It added that the IRGC had detained the crew, who included nationals from Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar. 

Earlier on Monday, two maritime security companies told Reuters that the Hankuk Chemi was seized by Iranian authorities. 

British firm Ambrey said the South Korean-flagged vessel, owned by DM Shipping Co, had departed from the Petroleum Chemical Quay in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, before the incident and had been tracked inside Iranian territorial waters headed towards Bandar Abbas.

Another maritime security firm, Dryad Global, said on its website the chemical tanker had "likely been detained by Iranian forces" in the Strait of Hormuz while bound for Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.