North Korea demands return of US-seized cargo ship
North Korea demands return of US-seized cargo ship
North Korea calls coal ship seizure a 'robbery,' says it betrays spirit of US summit agreement
14 May, 2019, 22:13
North Korea on Tuesday denounced the impounding of one of its cargo ships as "unlawful robbery" and demanded the United States return the vessel without delay.
In a statement carried on Tuesday, the official Korean Central News Agency reported quoting an unnamed foreign ministry spokesperson that the U.S. had betrayed the spirit of a summit agreement a year ago between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.
The U.S. announced last week that it had seized the ship and accused the North Koreans of using it to deliver illegal coal reserves to the country, violating sanctions.
The foreign ministry statement rejected UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea, which the U.S. cited in impounding the vessel, as a violation of its sovereignty.
The move was an "extension of the American method" of seeking to bring Pyongyang "to its knees" through maximum pressure, he said.
The 17,000-ton vessel, North Korea's second-largest cargo ship, had been used to export North Korean coal in violation of global sanctions, USA officials say.
The seizure came on the heels of North Korea conducting weapons tests.
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USA officials said the North Korean vessel - known as the "Wise Honest" - was being impounded to American Samoa.
Negotiations regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons have recently stalled and tensions between the two countries have been rising.
A second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump ended without agreement in February, with the US insisting North Korea give up its nuclear programme and Pyongyang demanding sanctions relief.
The ship arrived this week at the port of Pago Pago in the US territory of American Samoa.
While Pyongyang has been seeking the lifting of the worldwide sanctions, imposed on it due to North Korea's repeated weapons and nuclear tests, Washington has been insisting that Pyongyang should abandon its nuclear program.
US officials believe North Korea uses the money from coal sales to fund its weapons program.
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