The last time we checked on North Korea, the joint military remains recovery effort had been ended and the Asian nation was shooting missiles into the ocean.
While neither news item bodes well for a peace deal, recent developments demonstrate that the Trump administration is just as willing to use sticks as much as carrots in negotiations.

The United States has seized a North Korean shipping vessel that was violating American law and international sanctions, the Justice Department announced Thursday, a move certain to escalate tensions already on the rise because of recent North Korean weapons tests.

Prosecutors said the carrier ship, the Wise Honest, was being used to export North Korean coal, a critical sector of the North’s economy that the United States and the United Nations have aggressively imposed sanctions on in an effort to force Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program. The ship was also being used to import heavy machinery.

Subsequently, the North Koreans demanded the return of the ship.

The United States should release a seized North Korean cargo vessel immediately, the North’s foreign ministry said Tuesday, calling it an “illicit act of robbery.”

…North Korea linked the seizure of the ship to the stalemated nuclear dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

“The latest act is an extension of Washington’s ‘maximum pressure’ calculation method under which the country is trying to force the North into submission,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted its foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

The spokesman added Pyongyang would pay sharp attention to Washington’s upcoming gestures.

I do not think Chairman Kim Jong Un or his staff are going to case much for the initial response from Washington, however.

The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it has no comment to make regarding North Korea’s demand for the return of a U.S.-seized cargo vessel.

A North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson earlier denounced the seizure of the Wise Honest as an “unlawful and outrageous act.”

…Katina Adams, a spokesperson for the State Department, said she doesn’t “have anything” on those remarks.

In addition to ignoring that demands, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is insisting on the continuations of sanctions on North Korea during current talks with Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday he emphasized the need to maintain sanctions on North Korea in talks with his Russian counterpart.

Pompeo met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi to discuss cooperation on various issues, including Iran, Venezuela and North Korea.

At a joint press conference after the meeting, Pompeo said the two countries agree on the goal of North Korea’s denuclearization and will continue to discuss it.

“I underscored that we must maintain full implementation of the U.N. sanctions until the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea is achieved,” he said. “Our two teams have been working very closely together on this in a very productive fashion.”

I’ll be keeping an eye out for missile reports that may be coming from the Korean peninsula in the wake of these developments.


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