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North Korea demands return of cargo ship seized by US

North Korea demands return of cargo ship seized by US

North Korea's foreign ministry is demanding the United States return the cargo ship it seized last week from Indonesia.

"This act of "maximum pressure" is a continuation of the United States' calculating style, created to push us into submission", the North Korean foreign ministry said.

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.

"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.

Undated photo released by the U.S. Justice Dept. on May 9, 2019 shows the North Korean cargo ship "Wise Honest".

It was the first time a North Korean cargo vessel had been seized by the U.S. for sanctions violations, after several years of high seas cat-and-mouse games in which Korean shippers disguised vessels, used false flags and turned off their tracking transponders to avoid discovery.

North Korea's formal name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

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.

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

The two leaders met for the second time in Vietnam in February.

United States officials have stressed that the seizure announcement had nothing to do with the tests.

In recent weeks, North Korea has resumed testing ballistic missiles after refraining from such launches for a year-and-a-half.

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

USA officials believe North Korea uses the money from coal sales to fund its weapons program.

It was brought Saturday to American Samoa, where it will undergo inspections.