North Korea on Tuesday demanded the U.S. return a cargo ship that was seized in violation of international sanctions against the rogue regime, calling it a “robbery.”
An unnamed North Korea foreign ministry spokesman accused the U.S. of betraying the spirit of last year’s summit agreement between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, according to the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
During their first meeting, Trump and Kim agreed to a vague statement calling for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and improved ties. A second meeting between the two leaders collapsed in February over demands about sanctions relief and nuclear disbarment.
The 17,061-ton vessel, called the Wise Honest, is one of North Korea’s largest bulk carriers used to illicitly ship coal from North Korea and deliver heavy machinery to the country, officials said. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said this is the first time a North Korean cargo ship was seized for violating international sanctions.
The seizure came on the heels of North Korea conducting weapons tests.
“The U.N. Security Council resolutions the United States mentioned as one of the reasons for robbing our trade vessel equate to a violent infringement of the sovereignty of our country and we have been entirely rejecting them,” a KCNA statement read. “The United States should carefully consider what kind of consequences their daylight robbery could bring to the political situation and should send back our vessel without hesitation.”
North Korea is banned from exporting coal under U.N. sanctions that were toughened in 2017 to punish the Hermit Kingdom over its weapons testing that year. Experts believe coal and other mineral exports help finance the North’s weapons industry.
The cargo ship arrived in American Samoa on Monday.
Fox News' Katherine Lam and the Associated Press contributed to this report.