Published: Tue, May 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

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

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

North Korea has called the seizure of one of its cargo ships by the U.S. an illegal and outrageous act.

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 US behavior.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump held an unprecedented summit on June 12 previous year in Singapore and pledged to establish new relations and a peace regime on the Korean peninsula. 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. The case marked the first time the United States had seized a North Korean cargo vessel for allegedly violating sanctions.

It is the first time that USA officials seized a North Korean vessel.

The American Justice Department said last week that it had taken possession of North Korean-registered vessel M/V Wise Honest in American Samoa.

The test of the missiles and the firing of a series of projectiles on Saturday were the first missile launches by North Korea since that of an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

Negotiations regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons have recently stalled and tensions between the two countries have been rising.

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.

Despite last year's accord, a second Trump-Kim Jong Un meeting in February 2019 proved to be less fruitful as talks broke down without a deal.

North Korea is under heavy sanctions, but it has managed to circumvent the restrictions.

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

North Korea has carried out two weapons tests in the past weeks in what is widely seen as an attempt to increase pressure on the US.

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.

USA officials believe North Korea uses the money from coal sales to fund its weapons program.

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