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North Korea demands US return seized cargo ship

Kim Song accuses Washington of 'sovereignty infringement acts' over impounding of Wise Honest

Michael Hernandez   | 21.05.2019
North Korea demands US return seized cargo ship

WASHINGTON 

The United States must return a North Korean cargo ship "without delay," Pyongyang's UN ambassador said Tuesday, citing alleged violations of international law.

Kim Song was addressing reporters at the UN's New York headquarters when he accused Washington of "dispossessing" the North of its property when it seized the Wise Honest cargo ship.

The U.S. alleged on May 9 that the 17,000-ton bulk carrier ship was used to ship North Korean coal in violation of UN sanctions. It is currently in U.S. custody in American Samoa following a warrant issued in the Southern District of New York.

The U.S. Justice Department justified the seizure by saying payments to maintain, improve and equip the Wise Honest were made in U.S. dollars through American banks, which it said were unwitting participants in a sanctions-evading scheme.

Kim said the seizure of what he called state property is a flagrant violation of the UN charter and international law and is tantamount to "sovereignty infringement acts" that he said "cannot be justified in any case and under any circumstances".

"We sharply watch every move of the United States with regards to this issue," he said.

While Kim took questions from several reporters, he did not answer them directly, including one pertaining to whether the ship was carrying contraband in violation of UN sanctions when it was seized, instead continuing to lambast the United States.

The Wise Honest is reportedly North Korea's second largest cargo ship.

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