North Korea: US violated 'spirit' of Trump-Kim summit with ship seizure

North Korea: US violated 'spirit' of Trump-Kim summit with ship seizure
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North Korea on Tuesday said that a U.S. seizure of one of its cargo ships last week was illegal, and demanded the vessel's return while calling the incident a violation of the "spirit" of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE's summit with Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnKim invited Trump to visit North Korea amid stalled nuclear talks: report Trump to have dinner with Otto Warmbier's parents: report Ted Lieu congratulates first Asian American cast member on 'Saturday Night Live' MORE earlier this year.

An unnamed North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson said on state television that the seizure was an "outrageous" step for the U.S. to take months after the second meeting between Trump and Kim ended without a major agreement on denuclearization or sanction relief, according to Reuters.

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“The United States committed an unlawful and outrageous act of dispossessing our cargo ship,” the official said, according to KCNA news agency.

“The latest U.S. 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-U.S. Joint Statement," the statement continued.

U.S. authorities announced the seizure of the North Korean vessel "Wise Honest" last week, accusing the ship's operators of seeking to violate U.S. sanctions by transporting North Korean coal for sale to "unwitting" U.S. buyers while also attempting to transport heavy machinery back to North Korea.

“Today’s civil action is the first-ever seizure of a North Korean cargo vessel for violating international sanctions. Our Office uncovered North Korea’s scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest," Geoffrey Berman, a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), said in a statement last week.

"This scheme not only allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, but the Wise Honest was also used to import heavy machinery to North Korea, helping expand North Korea’s capabilities and continuing the cycle of sanctions evasion. With this seizure, we have significantly disrupted that cycle."

U.S. officials maintain that the seizure is justified under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, which bar countries and private entities tied to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction from accessing the U.S. economy.