Seized N Korean ship: Cuban weapons on board

Cuba has admitted being behind a stash of weapons found on board a North Korean ship seized in the Panama Canal.
The Cuban foreign ministry said the ship was carrying obsolete Soviet-era arms from Cuba for repair in North Korea.
The ship was seized by Panama last week after "undeclared military cargo" was found hidden in a shipment of sugar.
United Nations sanctions prohibit the supply of arms to North Korea in the dispute over its nuclear programme.
However, a Cuban foreign ministry statement said Cuba reaffirmed its commitment to "peace, disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, and respect for international law".

Chong Chon Gang's route

  • 17 April: Departs port of Vostochnyy, Nakhodka in Russian Far East (200km east of North Korean border)
  • 31 May: Arrives at Pacific side of Panama Canal
  • 1 June: Passes through Panama Canal, heading for Havana in Cuba
  • 11 July: Arrives back at Panamanian port of Manzanillo
  • 12 July: Ship searched
  • 16 July: Panama announces its discovery
It said the vessel was carrying 240 tonnes of obsolete defensive weapons - two anti-aircraft missile complexes, nine missiles in parts and spares, two MiG 21-Bis fighter planes and 15 MiG engines.
The Cuban statement said they were all made in the mid-20th Century and were to be repaired and returned to Cuba.
"The agreements subscribed by Cuba in this field are supported by the need to maintain our defensive capacity in order to preserve national sovereignty," the statement went on.
Cuba said the ship was mainly loaded with 10,000 tonnes of sugar.
'Historical ties'
Relations between North Korea and Cuba, both communist countries, are considered close. A high-level military delegation from North Korea visited at the end of June and was received by President Raul Castro.
Cuban media said they discussed "the historical ties that unite the two nations and the common will to continue strengthening them".

US ambassador to UN Rosemary DiCarlo: "Shipments would violate Security Council resolutions"
Announcing the seizure of the vessel on Tuesday, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said it contained suspected "sophisticated missile equipment".
He posted a photo of what looked like a large green object inside a cargo container on his Twitter account.
The president said the 35-strong crew had resisted the search and the captain had tried to kill himself.
Panama's Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said the UN would be sending experts to continue the investigation and examine the issue of charging the crew with illegal weapons smuggling.
The US "commended" Panama for its actions, and said it strongly supported a full inspection of the ship.
The vessel, the Chong Chon Gang, was stopped near Manzanillo on the Atlantic side of the canal last week.
It had left Russia's far east in April and travelled across the Pacific Ocean before entering the canal at the start of June, with Cuba as its stated destination.
The Chong Chon Gang had crossed the Pacific without its automatic tracking system switched on - a move described by the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner as highly suspicious.

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