North Korea demands return of US-seized cargo ship

North Korea demands return of US-seized cargo ship

North Korea accused the United States of robbery Tuesday and demanded the immediate return of a cargo ship seized for allegedly violating global sanctions.

An unnamed North Korea foreign ministry spokesman accused the USA betraying the spirit of last year's summit agreement between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, according to the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The U.N. Security Council resolutions the United States mentioned as one of the reasons for robbing our trade vessel equate to a violent infringement of the sovereignty of our country and we have been entirely rejecting them", the KCNA statement 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 move was an "extension of U.S. calculation" to bring Pyongyang to its knees through maximum pressure, he said.

The Wise Honest was carrying about 25,000 tons of North Korean coal in March 2018, after loading up at Nampo Port in North Korea.

"The US must realise the outcome of its gangster-like actions... and must return our ship without delay", the statement added.

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The U.S. government on Thursday seized the North Korean ship which was being used to export coal, the first time Washington has taken such a step against Pyongyang.

Following the decision from the U.S. Justice Department, the ship was towed to American Samoa on Saturday.

Lifting of some of the measures was a key demand at a second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi in February that ultimately broke down without a deal. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump expressed their commitment for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula at their first bilateral meeting in Singapore last June.

The ship arrived this week at the port of Pago Pago in the USA territory of American Samoa.

The statement accused Washington of attempting to use "maximum pressure" on North Korea in a bid to bring the country "to its knees".

United Nations sanctions Resolution 2371, adopted in August 2017, bans all North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood.

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