The United States has taken control of a North Korean cargo ship and is alleging that it was used in violation of sanctions. The move comes as relations between North Korea and the United States continue to deteriorate. The vessel, the M/V Wise Honest, was apparently hauling coal destined to be illicitly sold to other countries when Indonesian authorities took control of it.
The United States and United Nations have both sought to restrict North Korea’s ability to sell coal. Experts believe that North Korea is using the funds from coal sales to fund nuclear weapons and ballistic missile research, among other things. While North Korea had originally pledged to shut down its nuclear weapons program, it now appears that the rogue state is once again looking to modernize and expand its arsenal.
The Wise Honest is North Korea’s second-largest cargo vessel. It has been used both to haul exports out of the country and to bring goods and machinery in. The Justice Department has now proclaimed that the ship is out of service. The ship is currently destined to American Samoa.
The Wise Honest has been out of service for some time. It was originally seized in August of 2018 by Indonesia authorities. Indonesian authorities found that it had switched its safety tracking equipment off, in an apparent effort to hide from authorities.
The captain of the ship was charged with violating maritime laws. Custody has since been transferred to the United States. The Wise Honest is believed to have previously completed shipments to China, Russia, and other countries.