Panama has found vintage weaponry in a North Korean-flagged ship trying to cross the Canal, weaponry dating back to the days when Mick debuted this,
Late Tuesday, Cuba’s foreign ministry said the vessel, which was carrying 10,000 tons of sugar, was also loaded with 240 metric tons of “obsolete defensive weapons” built in the mid-20th century. These included nine disassembled missiles, two MiG-21 Bis jet fighters, and two disassembled antiaircraft missile complexes, “to be repaired and returned to Cuba.”
The blurry pictures of the illicit cargo, contained under a shipment of brown sugar, speak only to the cognoscenti. The weapons mavens at IHS issued a report saying that the containers probably held the fire-control radar for the SA-2 family of surface-to-air missiles, and speculated that the cargo was either a sale to North Korea or a shipment that was being sent for upgrading, with the brown sugar as payment.
Full details on other parts of the cargo have yet to be released. The violent reaction of the crew and its captain — who apparently tried to commit suicide — suggest that the shipment was covert. If it does indeed violate UN sanctions, it is an ugly reminder of the real face of Cuba’s leadership and its alliances with the world’s worst malefactors. Although the Cubans and North Koreans have had a fitful, and occasionally bizarre, relationship over the years, just two weeks ago the chief of staff of North Korea’s armyvisited Havana. He probably wasn’t there for the cigars.
The New York Times initially suggested the two tyrannies’ relations had gotten closer in recent years as a result of U.S. sanctions. In reality, the nations’ tight ties go back to the first days of Fidel Castro’s regime in 1959.
And, by the way, the reason the ship was stopped in the first place is that it was suspected of drug smuggling, which it had been caught doing before.
So far, China and the USA staying out of this. It’ll go to the UN, where it will be duly forgotten.