North Korea said on Tuesday the seizure of one of its cargo ships by the United States was an illegal act that violated the spirit of a summit between the two countries’ leaders, and demanded the return of the vessel without delay.

The North’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it rejected UN Security Council resolutions against it which the United States cited in impounding the vessel, as a violation of its sovereignty.

"The United States committed an unlawful and outrageous act of dispossessing our cargo ship," an unnamed ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

"The latest US act constitutes an extension of the American method of calculation for bringing the DPRK to its knees by means of ‘maximum pressure’ and an outright denial of the underlying spirit of the June 12 DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement."

North Korea’s formal name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

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It would be the "biggest miscalculation" if the United States believed it can control the North with force, the statement said, adding it will keep a sharp eye on future US behaviour.

The US Justice Department last week said a North Korean cargo ship known as the "Wise Honest" was seized and impounded to American Samoa.

The vessel was accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of sanctions and first detained by Indonesia in April 2018.

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