North Korea demands release of coal ship seized by U.S.


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

It added that the seizure was a denial of the "underlying spirit" of last June's DPRK-US Joint Statement on renewed bilateral relations made by US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore. North Korea launched short-range "projectiles", while the US tested intercontinental ballistic missiles.

US authorities said the ship, the Wise Honest, was captured after it attempted to hide its country of origin and was now in their custody.

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

The North's foreign ministry said in a statement that it rejected U.N. Security Council resolutions against it which the United States cited in impounding the vessel, as a violation of its sovereignty.

Before the United States seized the cargo ship, the 177-meter (581-foot) vessel, named the Wise Honest, had first been detained by Indonesia in April 2018 while transporting a large amount of coal. -North Korean ties, with North Korea resuming weapons tests that seem meant to force the United States to ease sanctions.

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"The U.S. should carefully deliberate what consequences will follow in the current situation derived by their robbery and promptly return our ship", the Tuesday statement read.

The test of two short-range missiles on Thursday and the firing of a series of projectiles on Saturday were the first missile launches by the North since it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November 2017.

The ship arrived this week at the port of Pago Pago in the US territory of American Samoa.

Under a series of USA and United Nations sanctions, North Korea is prohibited from a broad range of economic activities, including exports of materials such as coal.

United Nations sanctions Resolution 2371, adopted in August 2017, bans all North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood.