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North Korean ship seized by U.S. arrives in American Samoa

The Wise Honest is North Korea’s second largest cargo vessel. The Trump administration says that it seized the bulk coal-carrying ship for sanctions violations

PortandTerminal.com, May 12, 2019

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa – The North Korean coal-carrying cargo ship that was seized by the U.S. last Thursday was towed into American Samoa on Saturday where it will undergo inspections. The seizure of North Korea’s second largest cargo ship last Thursday marks the first time that the United States has seized a North Korean vessel.

Today’s civil action is the first-ever seizure of a North Korean cargo vessel for violating international sanctions

Statement last week by U.S. attorney Geoffrey S. Berman

The vessel was seized because it believed to have been used to violate the strict international sanctions that have been placed upon North Korea a result of its nuclear testing program.

“Today’s civil action is the first-ever seizure of a North Korean cargo vessel for violating international sanctions,” U.S. attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement last week.

“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,” the statement continued. “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. We are willing and able to deploy the full array of law enforcement tools to detect, deter, and prosecute North Korea’s deceptive attempts to evade sanctions.”

The trip from Indonesia took about three weeks and American Samoa, in the South Pacific, was chosen because of “its central strategic location,” U.S. Coast Guard public affairs officer Amanda Wyrick said.

Protecting the port

Port of Pago Pago

Officials are also making sure the port is protected, Wyrick said.

“We especially in the Coast Guard, we understand the importance of the port. It’s a lifeline in getting goods to the islands,” Wyrick said. “So we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can, to make sure that there’s absolutely no disruption to the flow of commerce coming in and out.”

U.S. officials made the announcement of the ship’s seizure hours after North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea, the second weapons launch in five days and a possible signal that stalled talks over its nuclear weapons program are in trouble.

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