A resolution has been proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for the return of a U.S. Navy ship seized by North Korea 55 years ago, a summary of the resolution showed Monday.
The resolution, introduced last week by Rep. Steube Gregory (R-FL), calls for the return of USS Pueblo while denouncing North Korea's seizure of the ship and its crew on Jan. 23, 1968.
The House "maintains North Korea's seizure of the vessel USS Pueblo and its detention of the crew were in violation of international law," says the resolution.
It also adds the House "declares that USS Pueblo is the property of the United States government and it should be returned to the United States."
North Korea's official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, reported on Saturday that Pyongyang will wipe out "not only a port or an airfield of a warmongoer or invader but their entire land if a second USS Pueblo enters our territorial waters again."
USS Pueblo and its 83 crewmembers were seized while on an intelligence collection mission in the East Sea.
The proposed resolution argues the ship had "strict orders to remain at all times at a distance more than 13 nautical miles from the near point in North Korean territory, in order to avoid any possible incident."
"The United States has no reason to believe the orders were not obeyed," it says, adding the ship was carrying three 50-caliber machine guns at the time of its seizure, but that not a single shot had been fired.
One of the crewmembers, Fireman Duane Hodges, died on the day during the North Korean seizure of the Pueblo. His body and the other 82 sailors were repatriated in December 1968 after an 11-month detention in the North.
The crew and their families had filed a damage suit against North Korea in 2018 for "mental and physical abuse" they were exposed to during their time in the reclusive country.
A U.S. federal district court ruled against North Korea in 2021, ordering it to pay over US$2 billion in total or a minimum of $3.35 million to each of the crewmembers in compensation.
Source: Yonhap News Agency