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North Korea demands release of coal ship seized by U.S.

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

The U.S. government on Thursday seized the North Korean ship which was being used to export coal, the first time Washington has taken such a step against Pyongyang.

U.S. authorities said the ship, the Wise Honest, was captured after it attempted to hide its country of origin and was now in their custody.

The Justice Department described the 17,061-ton, single-hull bulk carrier ship as one of North Korea’s largest.

“The U.S. should think seriously about what consequences its brigandish act will bring about and return our ship without delay,” a North Korean spokesperson was quoted by Yonhap as saying.

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.

Negotiations regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons have recently stalled and tensions between the two countries have been rising.

Pyongyang and Washington have recently tested missiles. North Korea launched short-range “projectiles,” while the U.S. tested intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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