On Wednesday, January 13th, South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister, Choi Jung-Kun, met with several Iranian officials in Tehran, but his effort to get the South Korean flagged tanker released fell on deaf ears.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), reports that the incident took place in an attempt by the regime to get the South Korean government to release 7 billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets, but it is believed that it also took place to reinforce an aggressive stance toward the United States and other leading antagonists.
#NCRI and (#PMOI /#MEK #Iran): capture and holding hostage of a South Korean-flagged tanker seemingly hoping hopes to secure the release of money frozen in South Korean banks.https://t.co/ruhe7rm2yy #WeStand4FreeIran pic.twitter.com/URoFze1vpg
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) January 10, 2021
On Wednesday consecutive days of military drills took place just outside the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf of Oman.
The operation included the test firing of surface-to-surface cruise missiles, the development of which had been praised in the last few months by Iranian military figures as a deterrent against Western influence in the region.
In July the Islamic Republic admitted to testing cruise missiles with a 275-mile range.
Not so long ago, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, the head of the IRGC’s naval division, took part in a ceremony to showcase a new 7-mile underground missile base close to the Persian Gulf coast. He later made a statement in an appearance on state TV highlighting several examples of Iran demonstrating its strength in the neighboring region.
One of these was the 2019 downing of a US spy drone that authorities said had ended up in Iranian airspace despite the U.S. saying it was all the time operating within international waters.
Iran and the US nearly went to war over this incident and President Donald Trump at the last moment called off a planned retaliatory airstrike as the number of likely casualties would be disproportionate with the seriousness of the incident.
Trump acted in a similar way the following year after Iran launched several missiles at Iraqi military bases where U.S. personnel were stationed.
There were many serious injuries but no deaths. This strike was retaliation against the killing, on January 3rd, 2020, of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s foreign special operations division, the Quds Force. There have been no retaliatory attacks since.
Obama versus Trump
Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. led six other global powers in the negotiation of the controversial agreement that gave Iran relief from economic sanctions if they restricted the enrichment and stockpiling of nuclear material.
After President Trump re-imposed sanctions, the regime soon started to violate the terms of the deal, which gathered momentum in January 2020 following the Soleimani incident.
Last week, the IAEA confirmed that Iran had started to enrich uranium to 20% fissile purity, which meant it had returned to the level of progress the country had achieved before it entered into the 2015 agreement. It appears that Iran is reducing its compliance more with the deal by initiating research into the production of uranium metal. Under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran was explicitly barred from conducting that research for 15 years.
#NCRI), and (#PMOI /#MEK #Iran), the enrichment is to take place at the underground Fordow site and will be aimed at enriching the Uranium to 20%. Seizure of the South Korean ship https://t.co/REcwbHWwG6 #WeStand4FreeIran pic.twitter.com/fnefTPj2KA
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) January 15, 2021
The Israeli government has called upon the United Nations to convene meetings straightaway to discuss these developments. It is also asking for an embargo on military equipment and missile technology. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jake Sullivan, Biden’s choice for National Security Advisor, said that the Biden administration would act “in consultation with our allies and partners.” Sullivan also said that the goal of those negotiations would be “to tighten and lengthen Iran’s nuclear constraints, as well as address the missile program.”