In a news conference on Friday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said Hankuk Chemi and the captain were freed early Friday according to Iranian time. The captain and crew’s health was fine – as was the cargo, the ministry said.
The release comes after South Korea promised to try to secure Iran’s frozen money emissions in South Korean banks under U.S. sanctions, South Korean officials told Reuters.
The Iranian foreign ministry confirmed the launch of the ship after concluding the investigation and at the request of the shipowner and the South Korean government, according to the IRNA news agency.
“Iran, which has a long coastline in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea, emphasizes compliance with maritime regulations including environmental protection and monitoring of all violations,”; said foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh.
He said Iran’s decision to dismiss the captain had taken into account that he had no past history of abuse in the region.
The issue sparked a diplomatic dispute after Iran urged South Korea to freeze $ 7 billion in South Korean banks under U.S. sanctions.
A South Korean foreign ministry official told reporters on Friday the two sides had already agreed on a boat and the funds were unrelated, and South Korea promised to help get the money released.
“We have expressed our strong intention to resolve the fund problem,” said the official, who declined to be identified.
The South Korean ministry said in a statement that the ship had left Iran after completing administrative procedures. There was no mention of the need for the release of funds.
“The captain and crew are in good health,” the ministry said.
South Korea said the ships did not cause any pollution, ministry officials said Iran had given up plans to pursue criminal charges against shipping companies.
Iran denies allegations that the seizure of the tanker and crew was held hostage, saying it was South Korea who took Iranian money hostage.
The freeze was linked to US sanctions that Washington reused on Tehran in 2018, after which President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers.
Under Biden’s administration, the US and Iran have launched indirect talks about a return to the deal.
The United States recently agreed to allow Iran to use the money for non-military purposes and has spent some of it on the coronavirus vaccine sponsored by the COVAX program around the world, ministry officials said without giving the number. Exact