North Korea says ship seizure by US violates spirit of Trump-Kim summit

Agencies New Delhi, Delhi, India May 14, 2019, 10.13 AM(IST)

Trump - Kim summit Photograph:( Reuters )

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The case marks the first time the United States has seized a North Korean cargo vessel for violating sanctions.

North Korea said on Tuesday the seizure of one of its cargo ships by the United States was an illegal act that violated the spirit of a summit pact between the two countries' leaders and demanded the return of the vessel.

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

The US Justice Department last week said it had seized a North Korean cargo ship that it accused of illicit coal shipments in violations of sanctions after it was first detained by Indonesia.

"Our office uncovered North Korea's scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest," US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

"This scheme not only allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, but the Wise Honest was also used to import heavy machinery to North Korea," Berman said.

The ship, which was first confiscated by other foreign maritime authorities in Indonesia in April 2018, is now in the possession of the United States, a Justice Department official had said.

The 17,061-ton ship, which also was used to deliver heavy machinery to North Korea, is one of the country's largest bulk carriers, the Justice Department said.

The case marks the first time the United States has seized a North Korean cargo vessel for violating sanctions.

According to UN sanctions monitors, the Wise Honest was transporting 25,500 tons of coal when it was detained by Indonesia in April 2018.

The UN report estimated that the value of the ship's coal cargo was around $3 million.