North Korea demands the return of a US-bound freighter

US-bound freighter
File AFP

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — North Korea on Tuesday described the US authorities seizing one of its ships last week for violating international sanctions as “illegal robbery” and demanding the ship be returned.

The US judiciary announced last Thursday the confiscation of the North Korean cargo vessel “Wise Onset” accused of violating international sanctions by exporting quantities of coal and importing machinery.

The ship was seized last year in Indonesia as its captain was being pursued by Indonesian authorities. In July, US authorities also launched a confiscation mechanism.

The unprecedented seizure of a ship, one of North Korea’s largest shipping vessels, comes amid worsening relations between Washington and Pyongyang since the failure of the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in February in Vietnam.

The North Korean foreign ministry said the confiscation was contrary to the contents of the joint declaration signed by the US president and the North Korean leader during their first summit in June 2018 in Singapore.

“The United States committed an illegal robbery by confiscating our cargo ship, based on UN Security Council resolutions on sanctions,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement published by the North Korean News Agency.

“The United States must be aware of the consequences of its guerrilla-like actions and return our ship without delay,” he said.

North Korea faces a series of sanctions voted by the UN Security Council to force it to abandon its nuclear and ballistic programs.

The Hanoi summit failed on this issue, with Kim demanding that the main sanctions be removed from his country in return for launching the denuclearization process, which Washington considered too shy.

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