The new ferry link comes in spite of recent calls by U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson for countries to fully implement United Nations sanctions and review their ties with North Korea to pressure it to give up its weapons programmes.
This launch is the latest in a long list of weapons tests carried out by the regime of Kim Jong-un, particularly since a year ago. After months of sparring with increasingly threatening political rhetoric from both the United States and North Korea, the USA has toned down its challenges to Kim Jong-un, even though earlier this month, Politico reported that the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK) accused, through its Ministry of State Security, the US of plotting the assassination of its leader, Kim Jong-un.
The regular service of the ship, whose entry to Japanese ports is banned, is raising concern that it will strengthen economic ties between Russian Federation and North Korea, poking a hole in the wall of sanctions imposed by Japan, the United States and others against Pyongyang.
Potential passengers include "North Koreans coming to work in Russian Federation and tourists from northern China who miss the sea because they don't have their own", Baranov told AFP.
The U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has reached out to North Korea, promising no hostile intentions towards the regime.
The Port State Control Committee of the Asia-Pacific published 2016 data on North Korea merchant ships that indicate the vessels on average were found to have eight safety issues per ship.
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He added, "I must assume Kim Jong-Un's claims are the truth, because I know his aspirations certainly are..."
While in Tokyo, Harris met Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada.
"Russia doesn't want North Korea to have nuclear weapons, but the response from officials in Moscow has been minimal because they know Russian Federation isn't one of Pyongyang's targets", he added. He was also quoted as saying that the US was open to engagement, but that Pyongyang would have to stop all nuclear and missile tests. He also emphasized that the USA has been encouraging China to take "appropriate actions" with regard to its volatile neighbor.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that while Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, the world should talk to North Korea rather than threaten it.
Philippine government on Thursday reiterated its call to North Korea to cease missile tests, saying these are considered acts of provocation.