North Korean Ambassador to the UN, Kim Song held a rare news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Tuesday, calling Washington's seizure of the North Korean cargo ship Wise Honest "unlawful".
"The United States has committed an unlawful and outrageous act of dispossessing our cargo ship Wise Honest by forcibly taking it to the American Samoa under the pretext of unilateral sanctions and violation of its domestic law. We are condemning in strongest terms this act of dispossessing of our cargo ship."
Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department announced it had seized the ship, suspected of violating U.S. domestic law and international sanctions by making illicit coal transfers, in the first direct seizure of a North Korean ship by American authorities.
The ship was previously detained by Indonesia in April 2018, and has now been moved by the U.S. to American Samoa.
On Tuesday, North Korea's top envoy to the UN called for the immediate return of the ship.
"Therefore the United States should deliberate and think over the consequence of its outrageous acts might have on the future developments. Also the United States must return our cargo ship without delay."
The latest demand by Kim comes as he sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week, in which he criticized the unilateral U.S. sanctions as going against the UN Charter and international law.
The UN said it shared the document with the Security Council and member states, adding that questions concerning sanctions on North Korea are for the member states to address.
In response to North Korea's press conference, a U.S. State Department official says international sanctions remain in place and are to be enforced by all UN members.
The U.S. official was quoted in a Voice of America report, and added that President Trump believes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will fulfill his commitment to denuclearize.
The official also said the U.S. remains open to diplomatic negotiations with Pyeongyang to make further progress on that goal.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.