North Korea demands return of ship seized by US

H.R. McMaster a former national security adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump responds to an interview with The Asahi Shimbun

North Korea on Tuesday demanded the USA returned a cargo ship used to transport that was seized in violation of global sanctions against the rogue regime, calling it a "robbery".

The move was an "extension of U.S. calculation" to bring Pyongyang to its knees through maximum pressure, he said.

The United States announced last week it had seized the Wise Honest, which was originally detained in April 2018 by Indonesian authorities.

"The U.S. should think seriously about what consequences its brigandish act will bring about and return our ship without delay", a North Korean spokesperson was quoted by Yonhap as saying.

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United States officials said the North Korean vessel - known as the "Wise Honest" - was being impounded to American Samoa.

An unnamed North Korea foreign ministry spokesman accused the US 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 Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump expressed their commitment for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula at their first bilateral meeting in Singapore last June.

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

North Korea's formal name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). They held a second summit in Vietnam in February which collapsed without agreement.

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US officials have shrugged off the three short-range missile tests, saying the door remains open for talks with the North.

Trump insisted he would not ease sanctions until North Korea agrees to abandon its entire nuclear weapons program.

North Korea is banned from exporting coal under United Nations sanctions toughened in 2017 to punish increasingly powerful weapons tests that year.

It was brought Saturday to American Samoa, where it will undergo inspections.

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

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