Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category

Panama: Chong Chon Gang goes back to Cuba, captain goes to jail, garage sale coming up

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

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.

Related:
Odebrecht’s Cuba Port at Center of Illegal Weapons Smuggling

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

Panama: North Korea to pay fine for the rust bucket

Friday, January 17th, 2014

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.

Panama: Cuban weapons aboard N. Korean ship part of ‘major deal’

Friday, October 11th, 2013

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.

Cuba: A cargo container full of [counterfit?] euros and dollars

Friday, August 30th, 2013

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).

Panama: Cuban weapons “in mint condition”

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

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:
Via Boz,

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.

PLUS

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.

Boz asks,

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.

A draft report by UN experts sent to Panama after the seizure of the ship in July confirmed a breach of [UN] sanctions, the ministry of public security said.

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.


Panama: No deal with North Korea

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

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.


Cuba: The Russia, Iran, & North Korea trifecta

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Carlos Eire posts on how the Castro Kingdom boasts of three encounters with enemies of the USA, all in a single day, namely:

Busy, busy, busy . . .

Panama: More Cuban weapons in the N. Korean freighter

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

In addition to the MiG-21 fighters and two missile radar systems they found earlier, now they found 12 engines for MiG-21 fighter jets and “five military vehicles that officials said resembled missile control centers.”

Panama discovers MORE fighter jet engines and military vehicles on the seized boat taking obsolete weapons from Cuba to North Korea
- More military hardware has been discovered on the boat intercepted by Panama on its way from Cuba to North Korea
- The Chong Chon Gang was stopped on July 15
- North Korea says it was to repair the equipment and return it to Cuba
- Cargo includes missile systems, two MiG-21 jet fighters, military vehicles and 12 spare engines, all hidden under bags of brown sugar

Cuba said the weapons on the ship included two anti-aircraft missile batteries, nine disassembled rockets, two MiG-21 fighter jets, and 15 MiG-21 engines, all Soviet-era military weaponry built in the middle of the last century.

and,

The crew set the vessel’s electrical system on fire to disable it, which means the unloading process could take up to ten days, a Panamanian foreign ministry spokesman said.

The UN investigators will arrive next month, after the ship is completely unloaded.

I’m sure they’ll send a strongly-worded letter upon their return to NYC.

-

Panama Canal: Was the FARC the intended recipient of the Cuban weapons?

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Colombian terrorist/crime group FARC (which stands for Colombian revolutionary armed forces in English) is currently in peace talks with the Colombian government. The negotiations are taking place in Cuba, while the FARC insist that they will not surrender their weapons, will not disarm, and will not serve time in prison. They want a similar deal to that of the IRA in Northern Ireland.

At the same time, Colombia’s largest armed rebel groups, the Farc and ELN, have met as recently as last month “to strengthen” their “unification process”:

They are discussing how Farc could enter politics if a deal is reached to end five decades of conflict.

According to the Farc statement, the meeting with the ELN (National Liberation Army) at an undisclosed location discussed the need to “work for the unity of all political and social forces” involved in changing the country.

The two groups have clashed in the past but have recently joined forces in armed operations against government targets in Colombia.

So the FARC holds peace talks, while engaging in negotiations to merge with another, equally deadly Colombian terrorist group.

Presently, the peace negotiations are on recess, and are scheduled to resume on July 28,

After having exchanged proposals about the second point in the agenda (political participation), the parties have worked separately to continue discussing the first sub item on the agenda, which envisages the rights and guarantees to exercise political opposition in general and in particular for the new movements that may emerge after the signing of the Final Agreement, as well as the access to the media.

In the meantime, elsewhere in Latin America, Panama stopped a North Korean freighter suspected of smuggling drugs, and, after a tussle with the crew, a suicide attempt by the captain, and the captain’s heart attack, they find, hidden behind sacks of Cuban brown sugar,

240 metric tons of “obsolete defensive weapons”: two Volga and Pechora anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles “in parts and spares,” two Mig-21 Bis and 15 engines for those airplanes.

Keep in mind that the U.N. sanctions ban all imports to and exports from North Korea of conventional weapons, as well as material related to the country’s nuclear- and ballistic-missile programs.

But that was only on the first search; now Panama finds [four] more containers of Cuban war materiel on North Korean ship

Port authorities said four new containers had been found, bringing the total to six, in two stacks of three. They were not declared in the ship’s manifest and were hidden under 220,000 sacks of Cuban brown sugar.

But wait! There’s more!

Panamanian police academy cadets offloading the sugar so far have opened only one of the freighter’s four cargo holds, and each hold has six separate sections, according to the port officials, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.

Foreign technicians with specialized imaging equipment are expected to arrive soon to search every inch of the ship and not just its cargo holds, because the tip that led Panamanian authorities to search the freighter indicated that it was carrying illegal drugs.

[Panamanian] Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino, meanwhile, said the work of unloading the 220,000 sacks of sugar from the 450-foot Chong Chon Gang is an “odyssey” because the 100-pound bags were loaded in Cuba without using pallets.

“The technicians have told us that this cargo was loaded in a way that makes it difficult to unload,” Mulino told reporters, estimating that the work of unloading all the sugar will take another seven to 10 days.

One may take Cuba’s story at face value and believe them when they say that they were sending the armaments to Korea “to be repaired and returned to Cuba” – demonstrating that Cuba remains a threat. The line is that

the Cubans might have sent the equipment to North Korea to be repaired because Russia—an obvious choice to do the repair work—would have asked for cash, while North Korea may have well accepted a barter deal that included the 10,000 tons of sugar on the ship as payment for the repair of the weapons systems.

While all this is going on, former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe tweeted yesterday that he was told by a reliable source that the shipment was not headed to North Korea, but, instead, to Ecuador.

Which adds a new twist to the story.

Why would Ecuador’s government bother with such antiquated equipment, when it can buy new? For instance, five years ago, following the Uribe administration’s raid of a FARC encampment a mile into the Ecuadorian border, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says Quito may buy weapons from Iran to enable the tightening of security on its border with Colombia.

During his stay in Tehran, Ecuadorian officials attended an exhibition organized by the Iranian Defense Ministry and were familiarized with the country’s defense equipment.

That may be accomplished through money transfers in the joint Ecuadorian-Iranian bank, and with the help of the direct flights between Iran and Venezuela.

Ecuador can also openly purchase armaments through other sources.

However, the FARC, involved as it currently is in “peace talks”, and considering the fact it is recognized as a terrorist organization, is not in a situation where it can openly purchase armaments. Cuba, its host on the peace talks, is strapped for cash; so is North Korea; the FARC has money from its drug trade and other criminal activity. The FARC doesn’t need state-of-the-art armaments, it only needs enough to destroy and disrupt Colombia into chaos.

And, while we’re at it, let’s remember that last year FARC Camps [were] Dismantled in Panama’s Darien Jungle as a result of a joint operation between units from Panama and Colombia.

Jaime Bayly talked about this last night (in Spanish),

So, the question remains,

Was the FARC the intended recipient of the Cuban weapons?

UPDATE,
Linked by Babalu. Thanks!

Linked by HACER. Thanks!


The Cuban missile roundup

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

While the news channels can’t stop distracting themselves with racism, our enemies are still out there:

Cuba’s Criminal Regime and North Korea

After all the talk about hope and change and reform in Cuba, the old Stalinist regime of the Castros turns out to be in bed with North Korea and to be violating UN sanctions on that other Stalinist regime. Birds of a feather….

Today’s news tells us that a North Korean vessel traveling from Cuba to North Korea was stopped and searched near the Panama Canal. Lo and behold, hidden in the sugar were missile parts.

Cuba says it’s not important, because the missile is “obsolete”, but Analysts question Cuba calling Korea ship weapons ‘obsolete’ (emphasis added),

It said the cargo included 240 metric tons of “obsolete defensive weapons”: two Volga and Pechora anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles “in parts and spares,” two Mig-21 Bis and 15 engines for those airplanes.

Petersen said the shipment belies the Cuban claims.

“If you’re sending an engine to be repaired why would you sell the entire aircraft?” he said.

The missile radar systems could be upgraded to make air-defense systems more effective at shooting down modern military aircraft, other military analysts said. Defense experts said images released by Panama indicate the cargo is a radar system for the SA-2 family of surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, which are designed to shoot down enemy aircraft at high elevations.

More intriguing yet, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe tweeted that the missiles were headed to Ecuador,

Alberto de la Cruz translated,

New information coming in… “on the ship loaded with weapons and missiles. Remember that we had provided information regarding this news. I can say that the ship was not on its way to North Korea. This ship was on its way to Ecuador and some of those weapons was for that country.” Regards. I hope this is investigated.

For now, the UN is going to investigate,

Five U.N. investigators, including one from the Security Council, are expected to arrive around the beginning of August once the ship, the Chong Chon Gang, has been unloaded, Panamanian government officials said.

and so far the US has done not-a-thing,

The incident has not derailed U.S.-Cuban talks on migration

Once the five UN guys get back from Panama, expect a strongly-worded letter to follow.