The US authorities have been accused by North Korea of “literally mugging” its diplomats at a New York airport.
A spokesman for North Korea said the country’s officials had been “robbed” of a diplomatic package at John F. Kennedy Airport on June 16.
According to North Korea’s state news agency KCNA, the incident proved the US was a “lawless gangster state”.
The White House – which considers “solving” the North Korea crisis a priority – has yet to comment.
The North Korean diplomats were reportedly returning from a UN conference on disability rights when the incident – branded by KCNA as an “illegal and heinous act of provocation” – took place.
The news agency said: “The international community needs to seriously reconsider whether or not New York, where such an outrageous mugging is rampant, is fit to serve as the venue for international meetings.”
This alleged incident marks the latest addition to a catalogue of increasingly strained tensions between the two countries.
Last week, North Korea released American student Otto Warmbier, more than a year after he had been sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor.
Otto Warmbier was in a coma, showed no understanding of language, and had extensive brain tissue loss.
North Korea said Otto Warmbier’s coma was caused by botulism and a sleeping pill he took after his trial last year.
However, US doctors disputed this, while Otto Warmbier’s father said: “Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma – and we don’t – there’s no excuse for a civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and to have denied him top notch medical care.”
North Korea had accused Otto Warmbier – who had been on a tour of North Korea – of stealing a propaganda sign, claims disputed by those who were with him on the trip.