N. Korea demands release of cargo ship seized by US

Picture for representation
The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy. Reuters

North Korea on Tuesday demanded that the US should release a cargo ship seized on suspicions of violating UN sanctions, denouncing the seizure as an "outright denial" of the spirit of last year's first summit between leader Kim Jong-un and American President Donald Trump.

"The latest US act constitutes an extension of the American method of calculation for bringing North Korea to its knees by means of 'maximum pressure' and an outright denial of the underlying spirit of the June 12 Joint Statement that has committed to establish new bilateral relations," Yonhap News Agency quoted a spokesperson for the North Foreign Ministry as saying.

"The US should ponder over the consequences its heinous act might have on the future developments and immediately return our ship," the spokesperson said in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

The North also said that the time when the "US held sway over the world at its own free will is gone long ago, and it would be a biggest miscalculation if the US thought that North Korea is among the countries where the American-style logic of 'strength might work for'.

"We will carefully watch every move of the US hereafter," the statement said.

The US Justice Department said last week that the 17,061-tonne Wise Honest, one of the North's largest bulk carriers, was intercepted by Indonesian authorities last year after being loaded with coal in Nampo, North Korea, in violation of sanctions on the regime.

The ship is currently in US possession.

The department said the North was found to be concealing the origin of the Wise Honest to export tonnes of high-grade coal to foreign buyers and import heavy machinery to the North.

North Korea is under multiple global sanctions for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, including a ban on exports of coal.