Trump administration seizes ‘sanction-busting’ North Korean ship – By Chris Riotta (The Independent) / May 9 2019
The seizure arrives at a delicate time between the two countries
The United States has seized a North Korean cargo ship carrying coal in violation with international sanctions, law enforcements officials have confirmed.
The seizure of the vessel, detained last month in Indonesia, comes at a delicate moment between the two countries. It was announced hours after the North Koreans fired two suspected short-range missiles in an apparent sign of trouble for nuclear disarmament talks.
It also follows a Pentagon decision to suspend efforts to arrange negotiations on recovering additional remains of US service members killed in the North during the Korean War.
The Justice Department said the ship, the Wise Honest, is one of North Korea’s largest bulk carriers and for several years had been used to deliver Russian coal to North Korea.
Payments for maintenance and equipment for the vessel were made in American dollars through unwitting US banks, a violation of sanctions that bar North Korean citizens or entities from the US financial system.
Officials say North Korea sought to conceal the vessel’s purpose by listing in shipping documentation different countries for its nationality and the origin of the coal.
“This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official.
According to a civil complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Manhattan, the ship was intercepted and seized by Indonesian authorities on 2 April, 2018. At the time, it was about 2,800 miles south of Nampo, North Korea, where it had been photographed a month earlier.
The complaint says that after taking the load of coal, the ship sailed south with it towards Indonesia.