Monday, 27 May, 2019

North Korea accuses US of 'illegal' seizure of cargo ship

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
Steven Clarke | 14 May, 2019, 22:11

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.

The country's foreign ministry said in a statement that in doing so, the United States had violated the spirit of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore a year ago.

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

The North's foreign ministry said in a statement that it rejected U.N. Security Council resolutions against it which the United States cited in impounding the vessel, as a violation of its sovereignty.

The 17,000-ton vessel, North Korea's second-largest cargo ship, had been used to export North Korean coal in violation of worldwide sanctions, US officials say.

North Korea's formal name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The vessel was accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of sanctions and first detained by Indonesia in April 2018.

In a statement in the official Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's foreign ministry warned of unspecified "consequences" in response to the USA seizure of the vessel.

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It would be the "biggest miscalculation" if the United States believed it can control the North with force, the statement said, adding it will keep a sharp eye on future USA behavior.

USA officials have shrugged off the three short-range missile tests, saying the door remains open for talks with the North.

North Korea is sanctioned under multiple UN Security Council resolutions for its nuclear and missile programmes, and 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.

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

The cargo ship arrived in American Samoa on Monday.

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

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