Oslo, Norway. The recent developments in the North Korean nuclear missile standoff read like a Viking saga and include a strange visit by North Koreans to the land of the Vikings in desperate efforts to avert a Pacific disaster.

The North Korean parliamentary committee sent a rare letter of protest to the House of Representatives in Washington on Friday over its new package of tougher sanctions. The American sanctions were condemned as a “heinous act against humanity” by the foreign affairs committee of the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly, according to a DPRK state media report.

The report, carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency, said the letter was sent Friday, presumably by email or by diplomatic courrier to a corresponding embassy in Pyongyang.

The US Congress overwhelmingly voted May 4 to impose the new sanctions, which target North Korea’s shipping industry and use of what the bill called “slave labor.” International diplomatic experts condemned the sanctions for dragging Russia and China into the tensions directly. The sanctions call for US Agents to board any aircraft or ship that has entered North Korean space, anywhere on the globe.

It’s not unusual for Pyongyang to condemn Washington’s moves to censure it, but direct protests to Congress are exceptionally rare. Pyongyang normally expresses its displeasure with Washington through statements by the Foreign Ministry or other institutions, or through representatives at its United Nations’ mission in New York.

Friday’s protest was notable in that it was sent by the recently revived parliamentary foreign affairs committee, which was discontinued by Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, in 1998. The move to restart the committee has been seen as an attempt to create a “window” for contacts with the outside world – Seoul and Washington in particular.

The North also announced last week that it thwarted what it claims was a CIA-backed attempt to assassinate leader Kim Jong-Un. On Friday, its Central Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement suggesting the United States and South Korea are harboring suspects and should extradite them to the North immediately.

At the same time, however, a senior North Korean Foreign Ministry official flew to Oslo, Norway, to meet with former US diplomats and scholars in what is known as “track 2” talks on bilateral issues. The talks, which are held intermittently, are an informal opportunity for the two sides to exchange opinions and concerns.

The US Senate would need to approve the new sanctions next, before they could be implemented. The House bill bars ships owned by North Korea or by countries that refuse to comply with UN resolutions against it from operating in American waters or docking at US. ports. Goods produced by North Korea’s forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States, according to the legislation

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