Report: North Korea may have shut down communication channel

WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) — North Korea may already have shut down its New York channel of communication with the United States.

A U.S. State Department official who spoke to South Korean news agency Yonhap said on Friday the well-being and safety of Americans abroad is the government’s first priority.

The official then called on North Korea to allow for communication with detained U.S. citizens in compliance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a statement indicating the channel may have been blocked, according to Yonhap.

On Monday North Korea threatened to shut down the communication channel with the United States in response to the latest sanctions against leader Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang had also said it intends to try detained Americans in its custody under “wartime law.”

“If our request to immediately withdraw sanctions is not accepted by [the United States], we will carry out, step-by-step, corresponding practical measures,” the statement on KCNA read. “The first step is to completely block the New York channel of communication that uniquely exists between North Korea and the United States.”

The statement was delivered to the U.S. government from the Permanent Mission of North Korea to the United Nations on Sunday, according to KCNA.

In March North Korea sentenced University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier to 15 years of hard labor after detaining him in January.

In April U.S. citizen Kim Dong Chul was sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being charged of spying and transporting state secrets on a flash drive.

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