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Iran Press TV

North Korean cargo ship seized by US arrives in American Samoa for inspections

Iran Press TV

Sun May 12, 2019 06:17PM

A North Korean cargo ship seized by the US over claims of having violated Washington-imposed economic sanctions has arrived in the western American territory of Samoa.

The 17,000-ton Wise Honest was towed to the port of Pago Pago in the Samoan capital of Apia on Saturday morning and docked at the main docking section of the port.

The vessel, used for transporting coal, was detained in April 2018 as it traveled toward Indonesia. Officials with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday that the US had seized the ship.

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

"We also have a good strong relationship and partnership with the American Samoan government," Wyrick said. "With that being said, we also already have the resources that are able to ensure the security of the vessel but most importantly the Port of Pago Pago."

Asked as to how long the ship will be in the territory, Wyrick said the Department of Justice is was leading the investigation and the ship will be moved once the investigation is completed.

However, she said the next destination for the ship still remained unknown.

The Wise Honest ship was operated by the Korea Songi Shipping Company and is the second-largest cargo vessel in North Korea's fleet. The firm stands accused of violating US laws by paying American dollars for improvements, equipment purchases, and service expenditures for the vessel through unwitting US financial institutions.

US 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 program are in trouble.

In a bid to block North Korea's funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Washington has spearheaded several rounds of sanctions against the Southeast Asian country at the UN Security Council since 2006.

The bans have mostly targeted Pyongyang's exports, including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood while also hindering imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

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