Lake Erie Conservative

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Posts Tagged ‘Panama’

… 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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… Cuba and NortH Korea , “Brothers in Arms ??” …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Tuesday,July 23rd,2013

LEC  here — the comments on this are mine .  I insered them into  this article to posit answers  why Cuba ,  North Korea , and other Parties might be playing ” footsie . ”

Panama’s recent capture of a North Korean vessel carrying 240 tons of weapons from Cuba, including rockets, missile systems and two MIG 21s hidden among sacks of Cuban sugar, raises numerous questions and provides few answers.

[-] If the weapons were being sent from Cuba to be repaired in North Korea, why were they hidden in the hold of the ship under thousands of Cuban sugar bags?

— this one is obvious . Panama had likely made it clear that no weapons smuggling through the canal would be tolerated . Both Cuba and NK were afraid of sending the ship by the more circuitous route , either around South America , or past Africa . Either one would have xposed the ship to seizsure by Allied navies , with intel about what was listed on the manifest , and what was actually in the ship .

Why did the North Korean crew resist the Panamanian boarding of their ship in Panamanian waters? And why did the ship’s captain try to commit suicide?

— also obvious . They knew , or had some idea of what was actually in the ship , and the officers and crew were well paid to keep  their

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

… oops , we got caught ?! …

mouths shut , especially being from North Korea .

If Cuba needed to repair these weapons, why didn’t Gen. Raul Castro send them to Russia? After all, these were Russian weapons.

— less obvious . The stuff was old , and there may not have been people available to repair them.  Russian fims have moved on to more advanced stuff. Also , these firms could well have been penetrated by western and other spy agencies .

Better yet, wouldn’t it have been less expensive and more efficient to bring North Korean or Russian technicians to Cuba to repair these weapons?

— same as before . Also , penetration risk . may not have wanted the Russians or North Koreans to know the problems that they were having with the equipment , or where the munitions were or might be going .

Why would Cuba make this major effort to repair “obsolete” weapons, as the Cuban government describes the missile systems and the two MIG 21s?

— they can make $$ from their sale to parties who would want them , and were willing to pay top $$ for them . The problem would then be getting the weapons from Cuba to their intended destination , especially larger stuff .

Wouldn’t it have been easier or cheaper for Cuba to ask Venezuela to send to the island military equipment from their recent Russian purchase and include it in the Venezuelan package of aid to Cuba ?

— Cuba may not have wanted the Venezuelans to know their relative weakness , given their need to peddle weapons .

Or, couldn’t the Cubans have used the credits provided by Russia to purchase modern military equipment ?

— if the credits were for use for anything , Cuba may have needed them for other uses , such as food and fuel , which Russia has in great abundance .  also as before , not wanting the Russkies to know .

This leads to the obvious conclusion that Cuba and North Korea are not forthcoming with answers that could clarify this event. A likely answer could be that those are not “obsolete” weapons but functional, although old, equipment being shipped to another country.

For the past 50 years, Cuba has been an ally and supporter of numerous anti-American regimes and revolutionary and terrorist groups, some still struggling to attain and consolidate by “power and impose Marxist ideologies on their population. One of these is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congolese army has failed to quell a growing 10 month insurgencies which has dragged the country’s eastern region back to war. The rebellion could increase the possibility of conflict with neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, which allegedly are supporting the rebels. The Marxist Congolese government led by Joseph Kabila, a close friend of Cuba, has been struggling to retain power and crush the rebellion.

Congo is a major source of Uranium, which North Korea needs for its nuclear program. Shipments of North Korean weapons bound for the Congo have been intercepted in the past. Are the Cubans and North Koreans gambling to support their comrades in the Congo? The Director of the Sub-Saharan Department of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador to the Congo, Hector Igarza, led a high level, little publicized, delegation to Congo in February of this year, perhaps offering Cuban support to the beleaguered Congo regime. In September 2011, Kabila visited Gen. Raul Castro in Havana.

If it is determined that the weapons were destined for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or any other nation, it could have significant implications.

It would represent a serious violation of U.N. Resolutions.

It would show Gen. Raul Castro’s continuous commitment to internationalism and his willingness to violate international laws to support an ally.

It would jeopardize a possible rapprochement between Cuba and the U.S.

It would show that the Cubans are more interested in playing an international role and support their old allies, than work with the U.S. toward a possible normalization of relations.

It shows, one more time, that in Cuba economic decisions are dictated by political considerations. Relations with the U.S. are not a priority for Gen. Raul Castro. Supporting anti-American regimes and playing an international role remain Cuba’s priorities.

_____________________________

*Jaime Suchlicki

is Emilio Bacardi Moreau Distinguished Professor and Director, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. He is the author of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro, now in its fifth edition; Mexico: From Montezuma to NAFTA, now in its second edition and the recently published Breve Historia de Cuba.

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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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