North Korea demands return of ship seized by US

Acting Pentagon Chief Shanahan Says No Changes in Strategy With DPRK

North Korea on Tuesday demanded the release of a cargo ship seized by the US on suspicion of breaching United Nations and USA sanctions, the official Yonhap news agency cited Pyongyang state media as saying.

The country's state news agency, KCNA, accused the U.S. of betraying the spirit of an accord signed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore a year ago.

The U.S. announced last week that it had seized the ship and accused the North Koreans of using it to deliver illegal coal reserves to the country, violating sanctions.

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

The North Korean leader called for "full combat posture" following the USA seizure of the North Korean cargo ship.

Following the decision from the U.S. Justice Department, the ship was towed to American Samoa on Saturday.

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

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Washington was badly mistaken if it believed it could control Pyongyang with force, the ministry statement said, adding it would keep a sharp eye on future United States behaviour.

Negotiations regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons have recently stalled and tensions between the two countries have been rising. The vessel was originally seized in Indonesia past year for allegedly circumventing UN-imposed sanctions on shipping coal.

North Korea is sanctioned under multiple UN Security Council resolutions for its nuclear and missile programmes, and 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.

Under a series of US and United Nations sanctions, North Korea is prohibited from a broad range of economic activities, including exports of materials such as coal.

The seizure came on the heels of North Korea conducting weapons tests.

The ship arrived this week at the port of Pago Pago in the US territory of American Samoa.

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