Panama: Authorities find 2 jets on North Korean ship
By Dialogo July 22, 2013
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Panamanian authorities have found two MiG-21 fighter jets aboard a North Korea-flagged ship they seized this month as it tried to pass through the Panama Canal after departing from Cuba.
The supersonic jets were found alongside missile parts and other weapons concealed in a shipment of sugar, in what could constitute a violation of United Sanctions that already had been levied on North Korea.
Cuba has claimed the intercepted shipment, saying it consists of “obsolete” weapons that were being sent to North Korea to be repaired and returned.
United Nations sanctions’ experts plan to travel to Panama to inspect the shipment on Aug. 5.
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said the two jets, anti-aircraft missile batteries and other parts have been found on board.
The 35-man crew of the Chong Chon Gang has been detained on arms trafficking charges.
North Korea has insisted the shipment is entirely legitimate and demanded the release of the crew members, who are facing at least six years in prison if convicted.
The United Nations Security Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
[AFP (Panama), 21/07/2013; La Estrella (Panama), 22/07/2013]