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North Korea calls United States ship seizure a 'robbery,' demands its return

North Korea calls United States ship seizure a 'robbery,' demands its return”

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).

Last week the U.S. justice department accused Pyongyang of violating worldwide sanctions by using the vessel for coal shipments.

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

It was the first time a North Korean cargo vessel had been seized by the United States for sanctions violations, after several years of high seas cat-and-mouse games in which Korean shippers disguised vessels, used false flags and turned off their tracking transponders to avoid discovery.

Undated photo released by the U.S. Justice Dept. on May 9, 2019 shows the North Korean cargo ship "Wise Honest".

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At their landmark summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018, Kim and Trump had agreed to a vague statement calling for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and improved bilateral ties.

The foreign ministry statement rejected UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea, which the USA cited in impounding the vessel, as a violation of its sovereignty. The ship, known as the "Wise Honest", had initially been detained by Indonesian officials in April 2018 but has since been impounded by the United States and taken to American Samoa.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un meet during the second U.S.

United States officials have stressed that the seizure announcement had nothing to do with the tests.

The talks broke down when a second Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam in February failed to result in a deal.

The seizure of the Wise Honest is part of what US officials have described as a campaign of "maximum pressure" against the North.

North Korea is banned from exporting coal under United Nations sanctions in 2017.

North Korea has evaded the sanctions, in part by using dozens of ships such as the Wise Honest to conduct ship-to-ship transfers of raw materials.

Experts believe coal and other exports help finance the North's weapons industry.

United States officials said the North Korean vessel - known as the "Wise Honest" - was being impounded to American Samoa.



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