North Korea demands return of detained cargo ship

April FrancisMay 15, 2019

North Korea on Tuesday called the USA seizure of a North Korean cargo ship involved in banned coal exports a "robbery" and demanded that the vessel be returned immediately.

An unnamed North Korea foreign ministry spokesman accused the USA 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). North Korea launched short-range "projectiles", while the USA tested intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"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). The vessel was originally seized in Indonesia a year ago for allegedly circumventing UN-imposed sanctions on shipping coal.

"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.

It would be the "biggest miscalculation" if the USA believes it can control the North with force, the statement added. -North Korean ties, with North Korea resuming weapons tests that seem meant to force the United States to ease sanctions.

Since 2018, North Korea has been engaged in denuclearisation talks with the United States.

North Korea Fired Two Missiles, Says South Korea's Military
North Korea conducted two rounds of ballistic missile tests in a week, its first such activity in almost a year and a half. It was not immediately clear what happened to the rest of the crew, which at least at one time totaled two dozen members.

The detention marked the first time a North Korean cargo vessel had been seized by the U.S. for sanctions violations.

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 cargo ship arrived in American Samoa on Monday.

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

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

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