This week, Iran's
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) held a mass naval parade just off
Assaluyeh, a port city on the Persian Gulf. The timing of the announcement is
unusual, following just after the seizure of a South Korean tanker on Monday
and just before the arrival of a delegation of Korean negotiators.
outlet, Sepah News, reported that the organization held a mass parade off
Assaluyeh with more than 700 "light and semi-heavy vessels." The head
of the IRGC, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, and the head of the IRGC Navy, Admiral
Alireza Tangsiri, were both in attendance.
The exercise’s message armed forces and people ready to defend the
vital interests of this country
According to Sapah
News, the exercise was part of a week of events commemorating the first
anniversary of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC's previous
commander, who died in an American drone strike on January 3, 2020.
message of this exercise is that both our armed forces and our people are
always ready to defend the vital interests of this country, especially the
azure waters of the Persian Gulf and the water borders of our Islamic
homeland," said Maj. Gen. Salami in a statement.
IRGC forces seized
the South Korean tanker Hankuk Chemi and its 20-man crew on January 4, the day
after the anniversary of Soleimani's death. Iran claims that the seizure of the
vessel was intended to prevent environmental pollution, but analysts have
suggested that it is more about geopolitical messaging - and a possible attempt
at an exchange. The South Korean government is in possession of $7 billion in
Iranian funds, which were frozen when American sanctions were reimposed in
"If there is
any hostage-taking, it is Korea's government that is holding $7 billion which
belongs to us," Iranian government Ali Rabiei told a news conference
earlier this week.
A team of
negotiators from Seoul arrived in Tehran on Thursday Jan 7 to begin talks on
the tanker's release.