Pakistan calls for restraint from Iran and South Korea over seizure of tanker

While officials in Seoul said they are pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis. (AFP/YONHAP)
While officials in Seoul said they are pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis. (AFP/YONHAP)
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Updated 07 January 2021

Pakistan calls for restraint from Iran and South Korea over seizure of tanker

Pakistan calls for restraint from Iran and South Korea over seizure of tanker
  • Islamabad says all maritime disputes should be resolved in accordance with international law
  • Experts warn a dangerous situation is developing in Strait of Hormuz that must be addressed quickly

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday urged South Korea and Iran to exercise restraint amid fears that a maritime dispute between the two countries could escalate.

Seoul has moved military forces close to the Strait of Hormuz after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a South Korean-flagged oil tanker on Monday. The Hankuk Chemi, with 20 crew members on board, was traveling from Saudi Arabia to the UAE when it was intercepted and taken to the port of Bandar Abbas.

While officials in Seoul said they are pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis, the South Korean navy’s destroyer, Choi Young, arrived in the area on Tuesday.

“We have noted the development (in the Strait of Hormuz). We urge all sides to exercise restraint,” said Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office. “All the differences pertaining to maritime affairs should be resolved as per international laws.”

Experts in Pakistan warned that a potentially dangerous situation is developing in the region and it must be addressed as soon as possible.

“Any disturbance in this part of the world, which contributes about 65 percent to the world oil trade, should be a matter of grave concern — the stakes are high for every country,” Rear Adm. Saleem Akhtar, a retired naval officer and maritime affairs expert, told Arab News.

He said that the situation was of particular concern to Pakistan given its its close proximity to the Strait of Hormuz.

“If it escalates, it could be a very dangerous situation for Pakistan,” he added. “It will affect our merchant ships and make trade far more expensive and difficult; 95 percent of our trade comes from this place.”

Korean officials said on Thursday that a government delegation was traveling from Seoul to Tehran to secure the release of the tanker and its crew.

Retired Vice Adm. Khan Hasham bin Saddique, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia and another expert on maritime affairs, said it is a good sign that a Korean delegation has been sent to Iran in an attempt to resolve the situation diplomatically.

“The Strait of Hormuz is extremely important for the whole region,” he said. “A diplomatic solution to the problem is good for everyone in the neighborhood, since peace in this area is vital to international trade.”
 


Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
A view of Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, with a rocket underneath the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, during test launch of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, U.S. January 17, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 min 39 sec ago

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
  • The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats

LOS ANGELES: Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space on Sunday, eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed, the company said.
A 70-foot-long (21.34-meter-long) LauncherOne rocket was released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California, ignited moments later and soared toward space.
The two-stage rocket carried a cluster of very small satellites known as CubeSats developed and built as part of a NASA educational program involving US universities.
The launch occurred after the Boeing 747-400 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out over the Pacific Ocean to a drop point beyond the Channel Islands.
“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” Virgin Orbit tweeted later. “Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going absolutely bonkers.”
The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats.
The flight developments were announced on social media. The launch was not publicly livestreamed.
Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is part of a wave of companies targeting the launch market for increasingly capable small satellites, which may range in sizes comparable to a toaster on up to a home refrigerator.
Competitor Rocket Lab, also headquartered in Long Beach, has deployed 96 payloads in 17 launches of its Electron rocket from a site in New Zealand. Another of its rockets was nearing launch Sunday.
Virgin Orbit touts the flexibility of its capability to begin its missions by using airports around the globe.
Virgin Orbit attempted its first demonstration launch in May 2020.
The rocket was released and ignited but only briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting. The lost payload was only a test satellite.
The company later said an investigation determined there was a breach in a high-pressure line carrying cryogenic liquid oxygen to the first-stage combustion chamber.
Virgin Orbit is separate from Virgin Galactic, the company founded by Branson to carry passengers on suborbital hops in which they will experience the sensations and sights of spaceflight.
Virgin Galactic expects to begin commercial operations this year in southern New Mexico.