Pyongyang Accuses US of Violating Deal After North Korean Cargo Ship's Seizure

Relations have cooled since Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in held their first meeting

Relations have cooled since Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in held their first meeting

North Korea has denounced the recent seizure of one of its cargo ships by the United States as an "unlawful robbery" and demanded its immediate return.

The move was an "extension of the American method" of seeking to bring Pyongyang "to its knees" through maximum pressure, he said.

Last week, the US Department of Justice said that the United States seized a vessel, known as Wise Honest, due to what it described as the breach of US and UN sanctions by engaging in illicit coal shipments.

It would be the "biggest miscalculation" if the United States believed it can control the North with force, the statement said, adding it will keep a sharp eye on future US behavior.

The spokesperson reportedly added that the seizure was a violation of a joint declaration signed by the two countries, following the first-ever summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June 2018.

The 17,000-ton vessel, North Korea's second-largest cargo ship, had been used to export North Korean coal in violation of global sanctions, USA officials say.

Since 2018, North Korea has been engaged in denuclearisation talks with the United States.

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.

In a statement in the official Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's foreign ministry warned of unspecified "consequences" in response to the US seizure of the vessel. They held a second summit in Vietnam in February which collapsed without agreement.

North Korea is under heavy sanctions, but it has managed to circumvent the restrictions.

North Korea is banned from exporting coal under United Nations sanctioned that were toughened in 2017 to punish the Hermit Kingdom over its weapons testing that year.

Experts believe coal and other exports help finance the North's weapons industry.