US Seizes North Korean Cargo Ship Hauling Coal

Justice Dept accuses North Korea of violating ban on exporting coal

US forces have captured one of North Korea’s largest cargo ships, the Wise Honest, accusing the ship of having been involved in hauling coal in violation of international sanctions which the US interprets to forbid them from selling coal abroad.

The Justice Department issued a statement declaring the “sanctions-busting ship is now out of service.” Though the US accuses materially any North Korean ship in the water of violating sanctions, this is the first time they’ve gone to such an extent as to physically capture a ship.

US officials say that the capture of the ship is unrelated to recent North Korean activities, and was planned for months. The allegations against the ship date back to 11/16 through 4/18. The ship had confirmed selling coal to Indonesia in 2018.

This suggests the US began the activity to capture the ship even before the failed Hanoi summit, and was intending to do so, despite the obvious risk of derailing peace talks, before negotiations started to falter.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of