Quantcast
  

Saturday, April 19, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 1 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Panama finds suspected weapons on N. Korean ship

By Juan Zamorano

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:31 a.m. HST, Jul 16, 2013


PANAMA CITY » Panama's president said the country has seized a North Korean-flagged ship carrying what appeared to be ballistic missiles and other arms that had set sail from Cuba on its way to the Pacific.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli told RPC radio on Monday that the ship had been headed for North Korea. There were no immediate details on the quantity of arms aboard.

Martinelli said the undeclared military cargo appeared to include missiles and non-conventional arms and the ship was violating United Nations resolutions against arms trafficking.

Earlier, the president said on his Twitter account that the arms were "hidden in containers underneath the cargo of sugar."

He offered no details but posted a photo of what appeared to be a green tubular object sitting inside a cargo container or the ship's hold.

Panamanian authorities have only searched one of the ship's five cargo holds so far, said Luis Eduardo Camacho, a spokesman for the president.

"This material not being declared and Panama being a neutral country, a country in peace, that doesn't like war, we feel very worried about this war material and we don't know what else will have ... passed through the Panama Canal," Martinelli said.

The governments of North Korea and Cuba had not commented on Martinelli's remarks as of this morning.

Hugh Griffiths, an arms trafficking expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said the seized ship is called Chong Chon Gang and has been on the institute's suspect list for some time.

He said the ship had been caught before for trafficking narcotics and small arms ammunition. It was stopped in 2010 in the Ukraine and was attacked by pirates 400 miles off the coast of Somalia in 2009.

Griffiths' institute has also been interested in the ship because of a stop it made in 2009 in Tartus — a Syrian port city hosting a Russian naval base.

Griffiths also said the institute earlier this year reported to the U.N. a discovery it made of a flight from Cuba to North Korea that travelled via central Africa.

"Given the history of North Korea, Cuban military cooperation and now this latest seizure, we find this flight more interesting," he said. "After this incident there should be renewed focus on North Korean-Cuban links."

Martinelli told RPC the 35 North Koreans on the boat resisted police efforts to take the ship to the Caribbean port of Manzanillo. The crew was later taken into custody.

Martinelli said the captain had a heart attack and also tried to commit suicide during the operation.

He said authorities had been tipped off some days ago that the ship might be carrying drugs.

AP writer Malin Rising in Stockholm contributed to this report.







 Print   Email   Comment | View 1 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(1)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
cojef wrote:
Initial attempt to search was for illicit drugs, and then ended with seizure of ship for violating UN sanctions against trafficing in arms. Ship that bad rap from the get-go. Wonder how the San Francisco TV station that had to publicly apologize to Asiana Airlines a couple days ago will air this incident, being as this ship has a strange sounding name. Captain of the ship attempted suicide, probably fearing a worst fate for his family if he returned to North Korea.
on July 16,2013 | 07:51AM
IN OTHER NEWS
Breaking News