U.S. seizes North Korean ship after Pyongyang missile launch

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"North Korea, and the companies that help it evade USA and U.N. sanctions, should know that we will use all tools at our disposal-including a civil forfeiture action such as this one or criminal charges-to enforce the sanctions enacted by the USA and the global community", he explained, adding that the United States is committed to applying pressure on the regime after it allegedly fired the missiles.

The US Justice Department said it took possession of the North Korea-registered bulk carrier M/V Wise Honest one year after it was detained in Indonesia.

Though the Justice Department obtained a sealed seizure warrant for the ship in July, officials said the timing of the complaint seeking the vessel's forfeiture had nothing to do with the current tensions between the two countries.

Prosectors said the ship was used in a North Korean scheme to export tons of coal to foreign countries and to import heavy machinery in violation of global sanctions.

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The United States on Thursday seized a North Korean cargo ship accused of making illicit shipments of coal, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

"This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department's top national security official.

North Korea has carried out two weapons test in the space of the past week in what is widely seen as an attempt to increase pressure on the USA over its failure to make concessions. It was the second test of the U.S. Minuteman III missile this month and the third this year, though the Air Force maintains that such activity is scheduled years in advance, and not in response to any world events.

The Indonesian government reported to the United Nations in March that repatriation procedures for the 25 detained crew members of the Wise Honest are underway.

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"Coal exports have been one of North Korea's most proficient ways of earning foreign currency, and coal shipments are incredibly valuable, particularly the amount that ships like the Wise Honest can carry", Cameron Trainer, a research associate focused on United Nations sanctions on North Korea at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told NPR.

Songi Trading Corporation, a subordinate of the Korean People's Army, used "unwitting US financial institutions" while paying $750,000 for improvements to the Wise Honest - a breach of a longstanding federal law prohibiting USA banks from providing service to North Korean parties, officials said.

Court papers filed in federal court in NY said shipments by the Wise Honest and other North Korean vessels "provide a critical source of revenue for DPRK-based companies and for the North Korean government". It's Pyongyang's largest bulk carrier, and the first to be seized by the US for violating sanctions.

Officials announced the seizure Thursday as the vessel was close to entering United States territorial waters.

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In the KBS interview, Moon also warned North Korea of the risk of a misunderstanding that could result from its actions. When the ship travelled to Indonesia, it tried to hide details about its location by disabling its Automatic Identification System. The summit failed, however, with North Korea pinning the blame on Washington.

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