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Iran releases South Korean ship

The Hankuk Chemi tanker was released following an investigation into alleged water pollution, but the real reason for its detention may have been frozen Iranian funds in South Korea.
Korean ship seized by Iran

Iran released a South Korean ship Friday from detention. The ship’s seizure was related to frozen Iranian funds in the Asian country. 

Iranian naval forces detained the chemical tanker Hamkuk Chemi in January for allegedly causing water pollution. On Friday, a prosecutor ordered the ship and its crew released following an investigation, the state’s Press TV reported. 

The ship tracking website MarineTraffic showed the Hankuk Chemi sailing in the Gulf of Oman toward its destination in the United Arab Emirates on Friday. 

The actual reason for the ship’s seizure may have been an attempt by Tehran to secure the release of Iranian assets. South Korea is currently holding $7 billion for Iranian oil sales. South Korea, being an ally of the United States, froze the funds due to US sanctions on Iran. Iranian media outlets and officials referenced the frozen funds immediately following the ship’s detention. 

The Iranian and South Korean governments have not mentioned any deal pertaining to the assets in their communications on the Hankuk Chemi's release. An Iranian official told some news outlets that Seoul agreed to try and “solve the problem,” according to Reuters

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