Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category
Interesting question from Capitol Hill Cubans:
According to the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, Hamas militants are attempting to negotiate an arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communications equipment that will allow them to maintain their offensive against Israel.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, a U.S. federal court ruled that North Korea provided rocket and missile components for Hezbollah to use in its 2006 attacks against Israel.
. . .
Last year, the Cuban regime was caught red-handed smuggling 240 tons of weapons to North Korea. This constituted the largest amount of arms and related materiel interdicted to or from North Korea since the adoption of resolution 1718 (2006).
The interdicted shipment, aboard the Chong Chon Gang, includedsurface-to-air missile systems (that can take down planes), missile components, ammunition, radars and other miscellaneous arms-related materiel.
What if these missile systems had ended up in the hands of Hamas or Hezbollah?
Other Cuban weaponry may have, as there were at least seven otherNorth Korean vessels that made similarly elusive trips (as the Chong Chon Gang) to Cuban in the last few years.
Most recently, the Mu Du Bong
Remember the Chong Chon Gang, the North Korean rust bucket caught by the Panamenians carrying attack planes and armaments?
Now there’s the Mu Du Bong!
(No, I did not make up that name.)
A North Korean freighter has run aground in the Gulf of Mexico just days after a stop in Havana that sparked comparisons with another Pyongyang vessel captured last summer with an illegal shipment of Cuban weapons.
The 130-metre Mu Du Bong grounded on a reef about 11km from the Mexican port of Tuxpan, according to shipping officials. The task of pulling it off the reef would be complicated and take several days, they said.
And, of course, the Mu Du Bong and the Chong Chon Gang share another feature (aside from the same commercial agent, Ocean Maritime Management Company, and the same penurious lack of maintenance),
Both freighters sailed in Cuba waters but their exact locations were a mystery for several days because there were no reports from their automatic location beacons, required by safety regulations. The Chong Chon Gang turned off its beacon to hide its locations, UN investigators found later.
Nothing to see here . . .
Caracas hairdressers better take notice:
The June 20 issue of the Gaceta Oficial, the Venezuelan government’s official organ, announced that North Korea is allowed to open an embassy in Caracas.
The murderous Communist North Korean regime, which has attempted to interfere with private businesses in democratic countries, will have an embassy near the newly-expanded Panama Canal.
No wonder the chavistas are decamping to Spain.
In other Venezuelan news,
University students and government opponents protested in Caracas on Tuesday, demanding the release of people who have been arrested in street demonstrations in recent months. Also on Tuesday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) granted the army permission to participate in political marches and rallies, and denied that it would encourage proselytizing of the military.
A review of Al-Jazeera’s Fault Lines documentary, Venezuela Divided:
Al-Jazeera sent me information and a preview link to its Fault Lines documentary, Venezuela Divided, which will air on Al Jazeera America Saturday, June 28, at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
The reporter was accompanied by chavistas throughout the film, which is very sympathetic to the regime (as you can see from the article title The art of the Boliviarian revolution in Venezuela, as if the Boliviarian revolution was a symphony).
Venezuela Divided starts by contrasting a slum with an ice cream shop in a middle-to-upper class neighborhood, in the premise that it’s all “rich vs. poor”; the possibility that some of the people in the ice cream shop may be high-ranking chavistas or their relatives does not cross the reporter’s mind.
It shows a confrontation between university students and the National Guard, and a chavista college student whose nose was broken allegedly by anti-government students, while it forgets to show assemblywoman Maria Corina Machado’s nose being broken on the floor of the National Assembly by chavista Nancy Asencio, or the fact that the chavista regime deposed Machado of her Assembly seat and banned her from leaving the country.
Additionally, al-Jazeera’s emphasis on showing the Venezuelan demonstrators as engaged in a “simple” class struggle ignores this,
— Reporte Ya (@ReporteYa) February 18, 2014
In the past, al-Jazeera’s reports on Latin America have been interesting, but this one I find lacking.
The North Korean rust bucket returns to Cuba:
N Korean ship seized with Cuban weapons returns to Cuba
The Panama Canal Authority recently said the ship could leave, after Pyongyang paid a nearly $700,000 (£425,000) fine.
The ship was seized seven months ago with Soviet-era weapons and fighter jets hidden under sacks of sugar.
Three members of the crew stayed behind to face arms trafficking charges.
The captain, the first officer and the political officer of the Chong Chon Gang face sentences of up to 12 years.
Panama will be having a garage sale,
Panamanian officials quoted by Reuters news agency said the arms would likely be sold or given away and the sugar sold to companies interested in turning it into ethanol.
The ship’s automatic identification system was turned off to hide its stop at the Port of Mariel. Moreover, while the logs showed multiple ports of call, they omitted the Mariel stop.
This is the same Mariel port that the Brazilian conglomerate, Odebrecht, has been expanding (since 2011) in partnership with Castro’s military.
In other words, this Cuba-North Korea weapons transfer occurred right under Odebrecht’s nose (at best).
Why? Perhaps because in addition to the port, Brazilian construction and infrastructure giant Odebrecht is planning to build a plastics plant in Cuba
Remember the Chong Chon Gang? The North Korean ship loaded with Cuban armaments (including MiG fighter jets, anti-aircraft systems and explosives) that the Canal authority intercepted last July?
Well, the latest is that the $1million fine was bargained down to a devilish amount which better suits the evil Communist regime.
That fine has now been reduced by a third to $666,666, and the North Korean government has pledged to pay it next week, Panama’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
Panamanian Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez Fabrega said 32 of the ship’s 35 detained crew members would also be allowed to leave the country.
Hopefully it won’t be paid in counterfeit money.
No word as to what happens to the weaponry.
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.
The Chong Chon Gang, which is undergoing a thorough inspection from Panamanian authorities, had a cargo container full of euro and dollar bills of assorted denominations, according to Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda.
The currency will be tested to see if it is counterfit, as expected (h/t Babalu).
The North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang, which Panama stopped at the Canal, was loaded with armaments in good condition intended for North Korea’s use in its conventional military defenses, not, as Cuba claimed, to be repaired and returned to Cuba:
A report by SIPRI and 38 North reveals new details of the North Korean ship seized in Panama that contained weapons hidden beneath the 200,000 bags of sugar. In total, 25 shipping containers and six military vehicles were recovered by inspectors, far more than what the Cuban government previously claimed.
The report, Full Disclosure: Contents of North Korean Smuggling Ship Revealed, states that the cargo included
anti-aircraft missile components, two jet fighters and related engines, in fact a total of 25 shipping containers have now been recovered, together with six military vehicles.
the ship was also transporting a variety of small arms and light weapons (SALW) ammunition and conventional artillery ammunition for anti-tank guns and howitzer artillery as well as generators, batteries and night vision equipment, among other items.
The various rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and conventional artillery ammunition, many in mint condition, were unused and much of it was in original packing cases. They clearly were not “to be repaired and returned to Cuba.” Rather, these items were intended simply for delivery to North Korea for its own use.
The article’s authors, Hugh Griffiths and Roope Siirtola, ask,
One question that may confront the United Nations Panel of Experts currently investigating the case is whether this concealment device was created specifically for this voyage or is simply evidence of a long-standing practice employed by North Korean-owned vessels transporting illicit materials in a clandestine fashion.
On top of the sanctions question, Panama and the rest of the hemisphere would be correct to ask how many other arms shipments Cuba has covertly sent through the Panama Canal and where they have gone. It seems unlikely that this shipment was the only one Cuba has done.
Meanwhile, over in Cuba, General Pedro Mendiondo Gomez, who was in charge of the armaments found on the Chong Chon Gang, and who was scheduled to be questioned by the UN investigators, had an auto accident last Sunday that killed him and his wife and injured the other passengers in the back seat: his mother- and father- in-law.
While the Chong Chon Gang rust bucket sits waiting for UN inspectors, North Korea has been asking for a “diplomatic solution”.
No go, says Panama: Panama says no diplomatic deal on North Korean ship that carried Cuban weapons
Panama is insisting that the case of a North Korean ship carrying contraband Cuban weapons must be handled by the United Nations despite a soothing diplomatic note from Pyongyang, according a Panamanian government official.
The verbal note from Pyongyang’s embassy in Havana noted that the ship did not seek to endanger the security of the Panama Canal and that North Korea hopes for “amiable cooperation” to resolve the case “diplomatically,” the official said.
North Korea also asked in the note Friday that two of its diplomats be allowed into Panama to provide consular services to the 35 crewmen of the freighter Chong Chon Gang, said the official, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the case.
Pardon my ignorance, but, what the hey is a “verbal note”? A voice mail?
As you may recall, the ship was loaded,
Havana has acknowledged the Chong Chon Gang was carrying 240 tons of “obsolete” Cuban weapons to be “repaired” and returned to Cuba, including two MiG jets, 15 MiG engines and nine anti-aircraft missiles and parts and two targeting radars.
And don’t forget the anti-tank rocket propelled grenades, while you’re at it.