The United States has for the first time seized a North Korean cargo ship it accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of U.S. and United Nations sanctions, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday. The ship, known as the “Wise Honest,” was first detained by Indonesia in April 2018. Under an unusual U.S. civil forfeiture action, the vessel is now in the possession of the United States and is currently approaching U.S. territorial waters heading toward American Samoa, U.S. Justice Department officials said.
North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles on Thursday, the South’s military said, less than a week after its leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test-firing of multiple rockets and a missile. They covered distances of 420 km (260 miles) and 270 km (168 miles) and reached an altitude of about 50 km (31 miles) before falling into the sea, they said. After Thursday’s launch, South Korea’s military said it had stepped up monitoring and security in case of another launch, and was working with the United States to get additional information on the missiles involved.
The second woman charged in the death of Kim Jong Nam, half brother to North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un, is due to be freed. This comes a month after a Malaysia court cleared her suspected accomplice in the 2017 nerve agent attack in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The North Korean government presented the United States with a bill for $2 million for the hospital care of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who was held as a prisoner by Pyongyang, and insisted the US sign a pledge to pay the bill before releasing him from their custody in 2017, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Warmbier was in a comatose state at the time of his release from North Korean custody and died a few days after returning to the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was “pleased” with the outcome of his summit meeting Thursday in the Russian city of Vladivostok with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he would discuss the results with China and the United States. “We are all pleased with the outcome of the talks — both I and my colleagues,” the Russian leader said. Asked if Kim would be willing to continue his contact with the US, Putin said the leader in Pyongyang would be guided by his “national interests,” but added that “we can’t resolve anything without talks” when it came to the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet in Russia later this month, the Kremlin announced Thursday. The meeting between the Cold War allies comes at a delicate moment in the nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the United States, which have stalled since the last round of talks in Hanoi fell apart earlier this year. The announcement came just hours after North Korea’s foreign ministry called for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to be replaced in any further negotiations between the two countries.
North Korea said Thursday that it had test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear negotiations. Both the demand for Pompeo’s removal from the talks and the weapon test point to Pyongyang’s displeasure with the deadlocked negotiations. In a statement issued under the name of Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the American Affairs Department at Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry, North Korea accused Pompeo of “talking nonsense” and misrepresenting Kim’s comments.
A shadowy North Korean dissident group claimed responsibility for last month’s raid on Pyongyang’s embassy in the Spanish capital, Madrid on Tuesday but disputed allegations that what occurred at the diplomatic compound was an “attack” involving armed intruders. Cheollima Civil Defense, a secretive organization whose goal is to overthrow the Kim regime in North Korea, also denied that any other foreign governments were involved in the operation or that it was related to President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un’s summit in Hanoi, which occurred days later. CCD maintains that they shared information with the FBI voluntarily, but at the bureau’s request.
The Indonesian woman accused of killing Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, has been freed after charges against her were dropped. Siti Aisyah had been accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Mr Kim’s face in Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017. After several months of delay, the defense phase of the trial was set to begin Monday, with testimony from Ms Huong. However, the prosecutor in the case requested the murder charge for Siti Aisyah be dropped, without giving a reason.
New activity has been detected at a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles plant, South Korean media said on Thursday, as U.S. President Donald Trump said he would be very disappointed if Pyongyang rebuilt a rocket site. Movement of cargo vehicles was spotted recently around a factory at Sanumdong in Pyongyang, which produced North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo and Donga Ilbo newspapers reported, citing lawmakers briefed by the National Intelligence Service.