Iran seizes South Korean oil tanker amid rising Gulf tension

With just two weeks to go until Donald Trump leaves the White House tension grows around Iran, which takes a step forward with the restart of uranium enrichment to 20% and, at the same time, the seizure of a South Korean ship in the Gulf for “contamination.” Iraq, where the Tehran regime has the Shiite militias as allies, and the Persian Gulf, a strategic point for the passage of oil, are the two boards on which the Islamic republic and its adversaries move token in this umpteenth duel that returns to put the current US president to the test in the last days of his term.

After hearing the Iranian announcement to start enriching 20%, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “Israel will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons.” The Pentagon ordered to keep the aircraft carrier Nimitz, which was scheduled to head home, in the area, and this change in plans was due to “the threat of Iran.”

The Revolutionary Guard, for its part, announced the seizure of the ship “Hankuk Chemi” in the Persian Gulf area, with a cargo of 7,200 tons of ethanol. The vessel was taken to the port of Bandar Abbas and its twenty crew members are being held there, reported the South Korean Foreign Ministry. According to the version released by local media, the ship would have spilled chemicals into the sea.

The arrest is reminiscent of what happened in the summer of 2019 when Tehran detained the British tanker ‘Stena Impero’ just two weeks after an Iranian ship bound for Syria was detained in Gibraltar. On this occasion, the Islamic Republic has pending accounts with the Government of Seoul, which has frozen 7,000 million Iranian dollars frozen due to the United States sanctions, as revealed by the governor of the Central Bank of Iran.

Pending the negotiation between Seoul and Tehran for the release of the ship, the Iranians complied with the announcement made at the weekend and informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the increase in uranium enrichment to a level of 20 %. The world body confirmed that the process has already been launched at the Fordo plant and in this way the regime takes a new step away from the nuclear agreement signed in 2015.

Still far from the atomic weapon

This degree of enrichment is still far from the 90% needed to make weapons, but when it occurred a decade ago it already set off all the alarms and was on the verge of provoking a surgical attack by Israel. The Jewish state was once again the first to react and Netanyahu said that “this is yet another sign that Iran’s intention is to develop a military nuclear program.”

The pact signed in 2015 then managed to get the Iranians to limit uranium enrichment to 3.67%, but world leaders such as Netanyahu himself or Trump considered the consensus as “the worst possible agreement.” In fact, the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018. Two years later, those who despised that document now accuse Tehran of not respecting it.

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