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North Korea Blames US of ‘Robbery’ for Seizing Cargo Ship, Demands Immediate Return

Trump insisted he would not ease sanctions until North Korea agrees to abandon its entire nuclear weapons program

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cargo ship, seizure
The North Korean cargo ship, Wise Honest, middle, was towed into the Port of Pago Pago, May 11, 2019, in Pago Pago, American Samoa. VOA

North Korea accused the United States of robbery Tuesday and demanded the immediate return of a cargo ship seized for allegedly violating international sanctions.

In a statement in the official Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s foreign ministry warned of unspecified “consequences” in response to the U.S. seizure of the vessel.

“The U.S. should carefully deliberate what consequences will follow in the current situation derived by their robbery and promptly return our ship,” the Tuesday statement read.

The KCNA statement claimed the seizure violates the 2018 agreement between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to improve bilateral relations.

The United States announced last week it had seized the Wise Honest, which was originally detained in April 2018 by Indonesian authorities.

The 17,000-ton vessel, North Korea’s second-largest cargo ship, had been used to export North Korean coal in violation of international sanctions, U.S. officials say. It is the first time that U.S. officials seized a North Korean vessel.

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Undated photo released by the U.S. Justice Dept. on May 9, 2019 shows the North Korean cargo ship ‘Wise Honest’. VOA

The move further strained ties between North Korea and the United States, which appear to be re-entering a period of hostility after a year of nuclear talks.

In recent weeks, North Korea has resumed testing ballistic missiles after refraining from such launches for a year-and-a-half.

U.S. officials have shrugged off the three short-range missile tests, saying the door remains open for talks with the North.

At their first summit in June 2018, Trump and Kim vowed to improve relations and to work “toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

The talks broke down when a second Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam in February failed to result in a deal.

At that summit, Kim offered to dismantle a key North Korean nuclear site in exchange for the United States easing sanctions that are hurting the North’s economy.

Trump insisted he would not ease sanctions until North Korea agrees to abandon its entire nuclear weapons program.

cargo ship
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un meet during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Feb. 28, 2019. VOA

The seizure of the Wise Honest is part of what U.S. officials have described as a campaign of “maximum pressure” against the North.

Under a series of U.S. and United Nations sanctions, North Korea is prohibited from a broad range of economic activities, including exports of materials such as coal.

North Korea has evaded the sanctions, in part by using dozens of ships such as the Wise Honest to conduct ship-to-ship transfers of raw materials.

When it was detained in 2018, the Wise Honest was carrying about 25,500 tons of coal — a load valued at around $3 million at the time.

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U.S. officials believe North Korea uses the money from coal sales to fund its weapons program.

The ship arrived this week at the port of Pago Pago in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. (VOA)

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Safety Measures Needed After Chicago Is Hit By A Spate Of Home Break-Ins

With a spate of home break-ins occurring in Chicago recently, homeowners are rightly worried about their safety.

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A house on fire (Representational image). Pixabay

A host of home break-ins have occurred in Chicago recently, leaving residents concerned for their safety. On November, 3, two masked men broke into a home in Back of the Yards which was occupied by three adults and a young child. They then callously stole a number of personal effects and set the property on fire before fleeing the scene. Meanwhile, a series of thefts have been reported in the Portage Park neighborhood. Thankfully, these types of losses are usually covered by your home insurance policy. However, extra precautions should be taken by homeowners looking to fight back against Chicago’s home thieves.

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Sadly, the two intruders who set light to the South Damen property have not yet been caught. Pixabay

Safeguarding your home with a firearm

The two men who entered the property on South Damen Avenue were armed with a handgun which was used to strike the 56-year-old male occupant of the property. It’s in cases like this where homeowners can utilize their own firearms to protect both themselves and their property. Illinois state law permits individuals to keep guns in their home so long as they hold a valid FOID card. In October, a 71-year-old Chicago homeowner used his firearm to shoot an intruder in the hand, before the police turned up and arrested the suspect. Police confirmed that the elderly shooter would not face charges as he had a concealed carry license.

Make life difficult for burglars

It is not yet known how the masked duo broke into the family home in Back of the Yards. However, one of the simplest ways to prevent thieves from breaking into your property is to make it difficult for them. Safewise states that the average burglary takes just 10 minutes to complete as intruders want to be in and out as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of being caught. It’s best to avoid glass doors and surrounds as these are easily broken into. Similarly, don’t provide access to a criminal in the form of a large pet flap on your door. Additionally, you should always ensure that your home’s doors and windows are secured – even on hot night.

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American flag waves beside CCTV cameras. VOA

Hook up security cameras

Sadly, the two intruders who set light to the South Damen property have not yet been caught. Following the break-in, theft and subsequent fire, the pair reportedly ran away in an unknown direction and the local police and investigating the incident. However, one way to deter burglars is to hook up security cameras around your home. Studies show homes with security cameras are 300% less likely to broken into. This is because security cameras increase the risk of a criminal being caught after they’ve committed their crime as high-quality images will be released of them. Therefore, they are less likely to choose your home as a target, especially if you stick signs up outside your home stating that 24/7 video surveillance is in use.

Also Read: Online Hate Thriving Even After The Recent Hate Crime in The U.S.

With a spate of home break-ins occurring in Chicago recently, homeowners are rightly worried about their safety. But by keeping a firearm in your home, using security cameras and by making your home difficult to break into, you’ll be better protected than ever before.