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Posts Tagged ‘Panama Canal’

… Cuba , North Korea , and the Chong Chon Gang [NK arms smuggling] …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Tuesday,July 23rd,2013

North Korea and weapons of mass destruction

North Korea and weapons of mass destruction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

.. this article (an editorial) needs no commentary …

Miami Herald Editorial HeraldEd@MiamiHerald.com

The seizure in Panama of the Chong Chon Gang, a rusty old North Korean ship carrying last century’s Soviet-era weapons from Cuba hidden under 250,000 sacks of brown sugar, may seem to have the wacky trappings of a  Gilligan’s Island episode with a Cold War flashback that includes a rioting crew and a captain threatening to kill himself when Panamanian soldiers boarded his ship.But as the ship’s containers begin to be cleared of the 100-pound bags of sugar and the weapons systems are exposed and analyzed by experts, no one’s laughing. The case for maintaining a tough line on North Korea and Cuba has been strengthened.

The Obama administration, which has spent years tossing carrots at both communist countries, keeps finding that neither wants to nibble. They’re too busy, after all, plotting against the United States and the United Nations.

Any talk of removing the communist island from the State Department’s terror list remains a fool’s errand when faced with more evidence of Cuba’s role as a pass-through for every renegade nation and terrorist group that seeks harbor there.

The Cuban and North Korean communist dictatorships maintain Cuba was sending “obsolete defensive weapons” for repairs in North Korea so that Cuba can “protect its sovereignty.” Among the 240 metric tons of weapons are two anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles “in parts and spares,” two Mig-21 bis jet fighters and 15 engines, the Cubans say.

But if the weapons are obsolete why repair them? In fact, a key radar component of the SA-2 surface-to-air defense system on the ship can still be used once upgraded to ward off newer Western systems that can disable the old SA-2, surface-to-air missiles designed for higher elevations like North Korea’s. Were these weapons headed for North Korea to spruce up for its own use now that neighboring China has toughened its position against Pyongyang?

North Korea’s arms deal with Cuba violates United Nations security resolutions that prohibit the Asian renegade from dealing in arms. The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea after its first illegal nuclear test in 2006 and again in 2009, sanctions that authorize inspections of ships at sea. Yet North Korea was removed from the U.S. State Department’s terror list in 2008 after it agreed to international inspection of its nuclear program. Time has shown that this promise was made to be broken.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and past chair, is right to call for North Korea to be put back on the terror list. And those hoping to get Cuba pulled off the terror list should have gotten their wake-up call about the Castro brothers’ ill will, too.

As Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez noted, “Weapons transfers from one communist regime to another hidden under sacks of sugar are not accidental occurrences and reinforce the necessity that Cuba remain on the State Department’s list of countries that sponsor state terrorism. In addition to possible violations of Panamanian law, the shipment almost certainly violated United Nations Security Council sanctions on shipments of weapons to North Korea and as such, I call on the Obama administration to submit this case to the U.N. Security Council for review.”

This is no time to be chummy with rogue regimes. Keep Cuba where it belongs — on the terror list — and add North Korea to the membership because both countries have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted.

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… the Plot Thickens [NK arms seizure] …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Monday,July 22nd,2013

.. COLON, PanamaPanamanian investigators unloading the cargo of a seized North Korean ship that carried arms from Cuba have found the two MiG-21 fighter jets the Cuban government had said were on board, the government said on Sunday.

..Alongside the two supersonic planes, originally produced by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s, officials found two missile radar

... oops , we got caught ?! ...

… oops , we got caught ?! …

systems on board the Chong Chon Gang, President Ricardo Martinelli told reporters in the Atlantic port of Colon.

The discovery, which included cables and electrical equipment, was made inside containers on the ship Panama had feared might contain explosive material. None was found.

.. After stopping the vessel bound for North Korea last week, Panama revealed it had found weapons in the cargo hold late on Monday. In response, Cuba said the shipment contained a range of “obsolete” arms being sent to North Korea for repair.

Panama has asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate the ship and its contents amid suspicion that the vessel is in breach of a wide-ranging arms embargo on North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile program.

“One can’t take undeclared weapons through the Panama Canal below other cargo,” Martinelli said, adding that he had not spoken personally to any Cuban officials since they first asked for the ship to be released last Saturday.

Javier Caraballo, Panama’s top anti-drugs prosecutor, said the planes gave off a strong odor of gasoline, indicating that they had likely been used recently. So far, Panama has not found anything not on the Cubans’ list of ordnance, he added.

The U.N. team is expected to arrive in early August once Panama has finished unloading the 155 meter (510 foot) ship.

The weapons were hidden under thousands of sacks of sugar on the freighter. Before the arms were discovered, Cuba told Panama the cargo was a donation of sugar for the people of North Korea.

LEC again — the Cubans have made themselves a colossal blunder . They have been in bed with the North Koreans , that is no doubt . However , one would think that they would try to be as sneaky and as stealthy as possible . Obviously , they were not enough .

.. The Panamanians are now on full alert . The Cubans (and anyone else) will now have to take the long way (around South America) , instead of the short route . Doing the alternative , itself , has risks . It risks detection , by the world ‘ s naval powers (U.S. , France , Brazil , Australia , India) , and , especially , the world-wide US sosus nets in the world ‘ s oceans .

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… Busted [NK missiles (Cuban ship)] …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Wednesday,July 17th,2013

.. from Newsmax ..

.. PANAMA CITY — Cuba said military equipment found buried under sacks of sugar on a North Korean ship seized as it tried to cross the Panama Canal was obsolete weaponry from the mid-20th century that it had sent to be repaired.

.. Panamanian authorities said it might take a week to search the ship, since so far they have only examined one of its five container sections. They have requested help from U.N. inspectors, along with Colombia and Britain, said Javier Carballo, Panama’s top narcotics prosecutor. North Korea is barred by U.N. sanctions from importing sophisticated weapons or missiles.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said Tuesday that the ship identified as the 14,000-ton Chong Chon Gang, which had

.. oops , we got caught !! ...

.. oops , we got caught !! …

departed Cuba en route to North Korea, was carrying missiles and other arms “hidden in containers underneath the cargo of sugar.”

Martinelli tweeted a photo showing a green tube that appears to be a horizontal antenna for the SNR-75 “Fan Song” radar, which is used to guide missiles fired by the SA-2 air-defense system found in former Warsaw Pact and Soviet-allied nations, said Neil Ashdown, an analyst for IHS Jane’s Intelligence.

“It is possible that this could be being sent to North Korea to update its high-altitude air-defense capabilities,” Ashdown said. Jane’s also said the equipment could be headed to North Korea to be upgraded.

North Korea has not commented on the seizure, during which 35 North Koreans were arrested after resisting police efforts to intercept the ship in Panamanian waters last week, according to Martinelli. He said the captain had a heart attack and also tried to commit suicide.

But Cuba’s Foreign Ministry released a statement late Tuesday acknowledging that the military equipment belonged to the Caribbean nation, saying it had been shipped out to be repaired and returned to the island.

“The agreements subscribed by Cuba in this field are supported by the need to maintain our defensive capacity in order to preserve national sovereignty,” the statement read.

It said the vessel was bound for North Korea mostly loaded with sugar — 10,000 tons of it — but added that the cargo also 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.

It concluded by saying that Havana remains “unwavering” in its commitment to international law, peace, and nuclear disarmament.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed four rounds of increasingly tougher sanctions against North Korea since its first nuclear test on Oct. 9, 2006.

Under current sanctions, all U.N. member states are prohibited from directly or indirectly supplying, selling or transferring all arms, missiles or missile systems and the equipment and technology to make them to North Korea, with the exception of small arms and light weapons.

The most recent resolution, approved in March after Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, authorizes all countries to inspect cargo in or transiting through their territory that originated in North Korea, or is destined to North Korea if a state has credible information the cargo could violate Security Council resolutions.

“Panama obviously has an important responsibility to ensure that the Panama Canal is utilized for safe and legal commerce,” said Acting U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, who is the current Security Council president. “Shipments of arms or related material to or from Korea would violate Security Council resolutions, three of them as a matter of fact.”

Panamanian authorities believed the ship was returning from Havana on its way to North Korea, Panamanian Public Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino told The Associated Press.

Based on unspecified intelligence, authorities suspected it could be carrying contraband and tried to communicate with the crew, who didn’t respond. Martinelli said Panama originally suspected drugs could be aboard.

“Panama being a neutral country, a country in peace, that doesn’t like war, we feel very worried about this military material,” Martinelli said.

In early July, a top North Korean general, Kim Kyok Sik, visited Cuba and met with his island counterparts. The Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma said he was also received by President Raul Castro, and the two had an “exchange about the historical ties that unite the two nations and the common will to continue strengthening them.”

The meetings were held behind closed doors, and there has been no detailed account of their discussions.

“After this incident there should be renewed focus on North Korean-Cuban links,” said Hugh Griffiths, an arms trafficking expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Griffiths said his institute told the U.N. this year that it had uncovered evidence 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.

The Chong Chon Gang has a history of being detained on suspicion of trafficking drugs and ammunition, Griffiths said. Lloyd’s List Intelligence said the 34-year-old ship, which is registered to the Pyongyang-based Chongchongang Shipping Company, “has a long history of detentions for safety deficiencies and other undeclared reasons.”

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxworld.com/GlobalTalk/nkorea-cuba-panama-ship/2013/07/17/id/515496#ixzz2ZLVVb8vX
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… Gotcha [North Korean ship] …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Tuesday,July 16th,2013

.. 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. 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.

.. He 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.

“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. He 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.

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