North Korea on Tuesday called an “illegal act of theft” the seizure last week of one of its cargo ships by US authorities who accuse it of violating international sanctions, and demanded the return of the building.
US justice announced last Thursday the seizure of “Wise Honest”, accused of violating international sanctions by exporting coal and importing machinery.
The ship was stalled last year in Indonesia, her captain being sued by the Indonesian authorities. In July, US authorities launched the seizure procedure.
This unprecedented seizure of a 17,000-ton ship – one of the largest cargo ships in North Korea, according to the United States – came amid a deterioration in relations between Washington and Pyongyang since the second summit’s fiasco between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un last February in Hanoi.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry said the seizure was contrary to the spirit of a joint declaration signed by the US president and the North Korean leader at their first summit in June 2018 in Singapore.
“The United States has committed an illegal act of theft by seizing our cargo ship on behalf of UN Security Council resolutions on sanctions,” said a spokesman for the ministry in a statement issued by the official agency KCNA.
“The United States must be aware of the consequences of their actions worthy of gangsters (…) and return our boat without delay,” the statement said.
North Korea is subject to multiple sanctions voted by the UN Security Council to force it to give up its nuclear and ballistic programs.
It is precisely on the question of lifting these retaliatory measures that the Hanoi summit failed. Kim called for the lifting of the main sanctions in exchange for a start of denuclearization deemed too timid by Washington.