Seoul (Times Of Ocean)- South Korea summoned Iran’s ambassador after a hardliner newspaper suggested Iran must block oil shipments route from the Strait of Hormuz, exporting to South Korea.
In an Op-Ed, Kayhan Newspaper, whose editor is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, has called on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to block routes of vessels carrying oil shipments to South Korea.
Yeo Seung-bae, the deputy foreign minister of South Korea, summoned ambassador Saeed Badamchi Shabestari on Monday. Kayhan’s editor Hossein Shariatmadari had written: “We can and must close the Strait of Hormuz to South Korean cargo ships and oil tankers and all ships that carry South Korean commodities … and not allow them to navigate through the Hormuz Strait as long as they have not paid their $7 billion debt to our country.”
Kayhan Newspaper is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei echo chamber as it is financed by Khamenei’s office.
Shariatmadari stated the nations which comply with US wishes and obey the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran should not be spared the consequences and high costs of their actions.
“Let’s start imposing sanctions on South Korea.” Hussein Shariatmadari
“As long as they do not release our assets, we can and should close the Strait of Hormuz to South Korean merchant ships and tankers, as well as to all vessels carrying goods or oil to or from South Korea,” he wrote.
“We should not allow them to cross the Strait of Hormuz.”
According to Yonhap news agency, Shabestari explained that Kayhan did not represent the Iranian government. South Korea says Seoul would like to see the money transferred but given US sanctions it needs Washington’s agreement.
A spokesman for Tehran’s foreign affairs ministry said Monday that arrangements for repatriating Iranian assets were “none of Washington’s business.”
Iran has once again threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to the freezing of Iranian assets in South Korea.
Keyhan’s chief editor, Hussein Shariatmadari wants to block close the most vital oil-trading route – located between Iran and Oman – so that nobody can export oil to South Korea.
Iran’s assets — about $7 billion — are frozen in two South Korean banks, which can’t be moved because of US sanctions.
Iran has repeatedly threatened that it may close a vital oil-trade route if the West imposes more sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.
It was last in 2019 that Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz if it could no longer export oil through the Persian Gulf waterway.
In January 2021, Iran detained a Korean tanker and in April 2021 banned imports of some Korean home appliances – apparently as a means to bring pressure on Seoul.
“If we are prevented from using it, we will close it,” Ali Reza Tengseiri, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps naval force, was quoted as saying by Iran’s Fars News Agency in 2019. “If there is any threat… to Iranian waters, we will not hesitate to respond.”
Iran repeatedly warned that “not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz” if sanctions are widened.
In 2011, then-Iran’s navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari claimed closing the strait would be “easy”.
During the past week, Iran’s IRGC seized two foreign vessels loaded with smuggled diesel in the Persian Gulf waters, Times Of Ocean quoted Iranian news agencies.
Iran’s media say the Commandos with the naval force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have seized two foreign ships in the Persian Gulf, which were carrying more than 500,000 liters of “smuggled fuel”.
Over the past years, Iran has seized dozens of tankers, merchant vessels, and ships sailing in the regional waters in retaliation against Western financial sanctions.
IRGC guards ambush tankers sailing in the Persian Gulf near Iran’s shores to seize them.