North Korea describes U.S. impounding of vessel as 'robbery'

N Korea says ship seizure by US illegal, demands immediate return

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

The move was an "extension of USA calculation" to bring Pyongyang to its knees through maximum pressure, he said. The vessel was originally seized in Indonesia past year for allegedly circumventing UN-imposed sanctions on shipping coal.

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

'The US must realise the outcome of its gangster-like actions. and must return our ship without delay, ' the statement added.

The American Justice Department said last week that it had taken possession of North Korean-registered vessel M/V Wise Honest in American Samoa.

In a statement carried on Tuesday, the official Korean Central News Agency reported quoting an unnamed foreign ministry spokesperson that the U.S. had betrayed the spirit of a summit agreement a year ago between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

The seizure of the cargo ship, which was announced last week, came at a delicate moment in U.S.

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.

Lifting of some of the measures was a key demand at a second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi in February that ultimately broke down without a deal.

In a statement in the official Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's foreign ministry warned of unspecified "consequences" in response to the USA seizure of the vessel.

North Korea has carried out two weapons tests in the past weeks in what is widely seen as an attempt to increase pressure on the US.

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

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