BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:30 P.M.) A South Korean-flagged oil tanker that was bound for the United Arab Emirates on Monday was last tracked entering Iranian territorial waters, the maritime tracking site, Marine Traffic, reported.
According to the Associated Press, who cited the U.K. security firm Ambrey, the MT Hankuk Chemi was seen off the coast of Bandar Abbas, but provided no explanation for why it entered the Islamic Republic’s territorial waters.
While there has been no comment from Iran, some maritime observers fear that the South Korean oil tanker was seized by the Islamic Republic
The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, an information service about global shipping, said that the merchant vessel changed course after an “interaction” between the ship and Iranian authorities, but did not provide any other details.
The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, in turn, stated that the authorities were aware of the situation and are closely monitoring it.
Iran is currently in a state of high alert over fears of a possible escalation between its armed forces and the United States, as a recent report revealed that the U.S.S. Nimitz aircraft carrier group would remain in the Persian Gulf as a deterrent to the Islamic Republic.
The reason for the heightened tensions on both sides is due to the one year anniversary of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by the U.S. Armed Forces, which some believed would trigger a retaliatory attack from Iran.
Furthermore, with U.S. President Donald Trump’s tenure ending on January 20th, American newspapers reported that the outgoing leader was looking at options to weaken the nuclear program of the Islamic Republic.