Monday, 27 May, 2019

North Korea describes U.S. impounding of vessel as 'robbery'

Relations have cooled since Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in held their first meeting Relations have cooled since Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in held their first meeting More
Patty Aguilar | 14 May, 2019, 22:14

North Korea on Tuesday demanded the release of a cargo ship seized by the US on suspicion of breaching United Nations and USA sanctions, the official Yonhap news agency cited Pyongyang state media as saying.

An unnamed North Korea foreign ministry spokesman accused the US 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 USA justice department accused Pyongyang of violating worldwide sanctions by using the vessel for coal shipments.

"The United States carried out an illegal act of robbery by seizing our cargo ship citing UN Security Council sanctions resolutions", the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

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

"This act of "maximum pressure" is a continuation of the United States' calculating style, created to push us into submission", the North Korean foreign ministry said.

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

The move further strained ties between North Korea and the United States, which appear to be re-entering a period of hostility after a year of nuclear talks. The case marked the first time the USA had seized a North Korean cargo vessel for allegedly violating sanctions.

The test of two short-range missiles on Thursday and the firing of a series of projectiles on Saturday were the first missile launches by the North since it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November 2017.

Before the United States seized the cargo ship, the 177-meter (581-foot) vessel, named the Wise Honest, had first been detained by Indonesia in April 2018 while transporting a large amount of coal.

But South Korea's President Moon Jae-in called the recent weapons tests a calibrated protest against Washington in the wake of the summit's breakdown and the North still wants to negotiate.

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