Cuba: Arms on N. Korean ship are ours

DEADLY CARGO: Panama has said that it found what it believed to be missiles on a North Korean ship.


    Jul 18, 2013

    Cuba: Arms on N. Korean ship are ours

    CUBA announced on Tuesday that weapons found on a North Korean ship close to the Panama Canal were "obsolete" Soviet-era arms, which the communist island had sent to Pyongyang for repair.

    The declaration came a day after Panama said it had found military equipment, which it believed to be missiles, after impounding the ship and conducting a search for drugs.

    Panama on Tuesday urged United Nations inspectors to scrutinise the cargo, which could constitute a violation of the strict arms sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear programme.

    However, Cuba, one of North Korea's few allies, claimed the shipment as its own, with the foreign ministry listing 240 tonnes of "obsolete defensive weapons", including two anti-aircraft missile systems, as being on board.

    Ms Lee Ho Ryung, an analyst with the Korea Institute for Defence Analysis in South Korea, was sceptical: "It's hard to understand why the North was taking such high risks just to repair another country's missiles, at a time when it is under tight international sanctions."

    Panamanian officials said on Monday that the crew resisted the search last Friday, and that the ship's captain attempted to commit suicide after the vessel was stopped.

    It was sailing from Cuba towards the canal and was stopped by drug-enforcement officials and taken into port in Manzanillo.