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North Korea describes United States impounding of vessel as 'robbery'

14 May 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump held an unprecedented summit on June 12 a year ago in Singapore and pledged to establish new relations and a peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

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

"This act is an extension of the US-style calculation of trying to hold us in submission with its "maximum pressure" and is a total denial of the fundamental spirit of the June 12 DPRK-US joint statement", the spokesperson said, using North Korea's formal name - the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

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

The 17,061-ton vessel, called the Wise Honest, is one of North Korea's largest bulk carriers used to illicitly ship coal from North Korea and deliver heavy machinery to the country, officials said.

This is the first time the United States has seized a North Korean ship for breaching sanctions and comes amid worsening relations between the two countries.

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North Korea on Tuesday demanded the return of a cargo ship seized by Washington last week for violating global sanctions, calling it an "illegal act of robbery". Their second meeting in Vietnam in February collapsed without agreement. The Trump administration announced that it would seize the ship hours after North Korea fired short-range missiles on Thursday.

While Pyongyang has been seeking the lifting of the global sanctions, imposed on it due to North Korea's repeated weapons and nuclear tests, Washington has been insisting that Pyongyang should abandon its nuclear program.

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

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

It was brought Saturday to American Samoa, where it will undergo inspections.

North Korea describes United States impounding of vessel as 'robbery'