- Pyongyang said the US committed an “unlawful brutal robbery” by seizing a North Korean cargo ship over alleged sanctions violations.
- The US announced on Thursday that it had seized the “sanctions-busting ship”, which it sailed for three weeks to American Samoa to investigate.
- North Korea said the US should consider “what kind of consequences their daylight robbery could bring to the political situation” and accused the US of violating agreements from a summit between the countries.
- North Korea said it will “watch the next move of the United States sharply.”
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Pyongyang accused the US of “unlawful brutal robbery” after the Department of Justice seized a North Korean cargo ship and sailing it thousands of miles to American Samoa to investigate it over possible sanctions violations.
A statement from an unnamed foreign ministry spokesperson carried by North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, on Tuesday demanded that the US return the ship immediately, and accused the US of violating agreements between the two countries.
North Korea also warned that the US should “should carefully consider what kind of consequences their daylight robbery could bring to the political situation.”
The US Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it had seized the 17,000-ton ship, one of North Korea’s largest, called the “Wise Honest.”
It accused the ship of making deliveries of coal and heavy machinery that violate US and UN sanctions on North Korea, and said that it was going to investigate the ship. The ship arrived in American Samoa, a US territory, on Saturday after a three-week journey, The Associated Press reported.
Assistant Attorney General Demers called the “Wise Honest” a “sanctions-busting ship,” and said the US would ensure that North Korea complies with the international sanctions, which include bans on exporting lead and coal in an effort to stop North Korea funding its weapons programs.
North Korea’s statement said that the UN’s sanctions “abused our sovereignty in an arrogant manner.”
Demers warned on Thursday that it will move to make sure North Korea complies with the sanctions: “North Korea, and the companies that help it evade US and UN sanctions, should know that we will use all tools at our disposal — including a civil forfeiture action such as this one, or criminal charges — to enforce the sanctions enacted by the U.S. and the global community.”
The US also accused North Korea of “concealing the origin” of the cargo ship and said it was using US financial institutions to help fund the ship.
But North Korea accused the US of violating the spirit of the agreement reached between North Korean Leader and US President Donald Trump at a summit in June 2018.
That summit saw both leaders agree in vague terms to the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula and to better relations between the two countries, but a second summit between the leaders collapsed in February 2019 over sanctions and the extent to which North Korea would shut down its nuclear program.
North Korea said that by seizing the ship the US had committed a “ridiculous act of compromising their national laws against other countries” and said that its action was “a rash violation of universal international law, which in no case could be subject to the jurisdiction of any other country.”
It also said that the US’ global influence is waning. “The age when the United States moved the world at will, has already passed,” the statement said, adding that the US would be making the “biggest miscalculation” if it thought it could control North Korea.
“We will watch the next move of the United States sharply.”