Panama stops North Korean ship carrying missiles from Cuba

“We suspected drugs,” Panamanian President Martinelli said, but “found containers we suspect contain sophisticated missile equipment”. Pyongyang is under an embargo for illegal nuclear tests, and cannot import or export weapons. City- Panamanian authorities yesterday seized a ship carrying missile components hidden in quintals of sugar on its way via the Panama Canal from Cuba to North Korea.

“We suspected drugs. When we started to unload the ship, which came from Cuba and was bound for North Korea, there were 220,000 quintals of sugar (1 quintal = 100 kg), and we found containers we suspect contain sophisticated missile equipment which is not allowed,” Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli told local radio.

The Panamanian authorities detained the 35-member crew, including the captain who apparently tried to kill himself during the search.

Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said the ship “aroused suspicion by the violent reaction of the captain and the crew”.

Under international sanctions voted by the Security Council of the United Nations in the wake of North Korea’s illegal nuclear tests, the North Korean regime cannot import or export heavy weapons.

There are suspicions that nations under international sanctions like North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Sudan have set up a network to exchange military technology and weapons.


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