This photo shows the DPRK cargo ship, Wise Honest, middle, being towed into the Port of Pago Pago in American Samoa in the late morning on May 11, 2019. (FILI SAGAPOLUTELE / AP)
SEOUL — The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Tuesday the seizure of one of its cargo ships by the United States was an illegal act that violated the spirit of a summit pact between the two countries' leaders, and demanded the return of the vessel.
DPRK's foreign ministry said in a statement that it rejected UN Security Council resolutions against it which the United States cited in impounding the vessel, as a violation of its sovereignty.
"The United States committed an unlawful and outrageous act of dispossessing our cargo ship," an unnamed ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by DPRK's official KCNA news agency.
The latest US act constitutes an extension of the American method of calculation for bringing the DPRK to its knees by means of 'maximum pressure' and an outright denial of the underlying spirit of the June 12 DPRK-US joint statement.
Spokesman for DPRK foreign ministry
"The latest US act constitutes an extension of the American method of calculation for bringing the DPRK to its knees by means of 'maximum pressure' and an outright denial of the underlying spirit of the June 12 DPRK-US joint statement."
It would be the "biggest miscalculation" if the United States believed it can control the DPRK with force, the statement noted, adding it will keep a sharp eye on future US behaviour.
The US Justice Department last week said a DPRK cargo ship known as the "Wise Honest" was seized and impounded to American Samoa. The vessel was accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of sanctions and first detained by Indonesia in April 2018.
TENSIONS FLARE AGAIN
DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump held an unprecedented summit on June 12 last year in Singapore and pledged to establish new relations and a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. They held a second summit in Vietnam in February which collapsed without agreement.
Tensions again have mounted since the failed summit. The US announcement of the ship seizure came hours after the DPRK fired two short-range missiles on Thursday.
The DPRK leader called for "full combat posture" following the US seizure of the DPRK cargo ship.
The test of two short-range missiles on Thursday and the firing of a series of projectiles on Saturday were the first missile launches by the DPRK since an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November 2017.
A senior DPRK foreign ministry official on Saturday lashed out at last week's statement by the US State Department that Pyongyang's regime subjected its people to "egregious violations" of human rights including 100,000 in political prison camps.
But the Republic of Korea's President Moon Jae-in called the recent weapons tests a calibrated protest against Washington in the wake of the summit's breakdown and the DPRK still wants to negotiate.
Adam Mount of the Federation of American Scientists said DPRK's recent state media reports may signal an escalation of rhetoric, albeit relatively sedate.
"If so, they would become part of a ongoing trend in which the regime sends increasingly alarming signals in an attempt to force a breakthrough in negotiations," Mount said.
HONG KONG NEWS