Panama: Cuban weapons aboard N. Korean ship part of ‘major deal’
Boz and Capitol Hill Cubans are posting on this violation on UN sanctions:
Cuban weapons aboard N. Korean ship part of ‘major deal,’ Panama says
Two Cuban MiG-21 jet fighters found aboard a seized North Korean cargo ship three months ago were in good repair, had been recently flown and were accompanied by “brand-new” jet engines, Panamanian officials say.
The assertions deepen the mystery around the Cuban military materiel that was found aboard the 508-foot North Korean freighter Chong Chon Gang, which Panamanian authorities intercepted July 10 off the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal.
“They had jet fuel still inside their tanks,” Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez Fabrega told McClatchy in an interview earlier this month. “They were not obsolete and in need of repair.”
A senior aide to the foreign minister, Tomas A. Cabal, said the deal had been arranged at a meeting June 29 in Havana among Cuban leader Raul Castro, Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias and Kim Kyok Sik, who was then the chief of the Korean People’s Army general staff. Kim was dismissed from his post in August, a month after the ship was seized.
Expect a strongly-worded letter from the UN to follow.
On their part,
Panama is treading lightly in the case, wary of angering Cuba, which Nunez Fabrega said was “one of the biggest customers of the free zone” in Colon, where it buys abundant goods as a consequence of the five-decade-old U.S. embargo on the island. A ship travels weekly from Colon to Havana to supply Cuba’s tourist hotels.
Is Cuba paying cash for these shipments? If they’re buying on credit, you can bet Panama will never collect.
But then, according to the article,
Panama was eager for the crew and ship to be on their way once North Korea settles a fine of up to $1 million imposed by the Panama Canal Authority for endangering the waterway by transporting undeclared weaponry.
Optimism clearly runs rampant among the Panamanian authorities.
Either that, or that cargo container full of currency is really worth it.