According to North Korea's ambassador to the UN, Han Tae-song, the U.S. seizure of the Wise Honest, a North Korean cargo ship suspected of illicit coal transfers, is the biggest stumbling block to improving the relationship between Pyeongyang and Washington, stressing that the ship must be returned immediately.
"America should ponder the consequences its heinous act might have impact on the future developments and it should return our ship immediately."
Pyeongyang, which is under U.S. and UN sanctions for its nuclear and missile programs, has stepped up its campaign of demanding the return of the cargo ship.
In the regime's latest demand, Han described the seizure as a "wanton violation of international law".
"The U.S. imprudent act of forcing other countries into their obstinence, at the domestic law is indeed a wanton violation of the universally accepted international law -- which makes clear that in no case can sovereign state be an object of the jurisdiction of other countries."
The ambassador added the Trump Administration must make a "big decision" on lifting sanctions before nuclear negotiations with the North can resume.
"As for resuming the talks with America, it is clearly stated by our leader in his policy speech last April (speech to People's Assembly). So, you know, and if they don't change their minds, if they don't make a big decision, we are not obsessed over another round of talks with the USA, out of (being) thirsty for lifting sanctions."
Han also answered questions on the regime's recent test firing of several projectiles and short-range missiles, saying the tests were a "routine check" of the North's national defense capabilities, indicating they would continue launches if they feel like it.
"Now, you know, the Americans and South Korea, they are waging in March and April they waged a joint military exercise. Even at this very moment they are planning these kinds of joint military exercise or other exercise against us. So, to cope with that, we also (need to) be prepared."
Asked about how the North is managing the current food shortages reported by UN agencies, Han says it's manageable, adding the real problem are the UN sanctions, and their impact on the North Korean people.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.