Seized weapons on N. Korean ship breached UN arms embargo: Panama
The Panamanian government on Wednesday announced that the military hardware found aboard the North Korean freighter Chong Chon Gang clearly breached the United Nations' wide-ranging arms embargo, citing a draft report compiled by UN experts.
A team of six UN Security Council experts conducted a two-week inspection on the seized weapons upon the request of Panama.
The UN is yet to make an official announcement on the inspection results, but the draft report states the shipment is in violation of the seven-year-old ban on arms transfer to North Korea, and it praises the Panamanian government for its role in detaining the shipment.
The Chong Chon Gang was en route from Cuba to North Korea, when it was seized in Panama during an inspection.
Two MiG-21 fighter jets, two units of missile radar systems, five military vehicles along with brand new rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank ammunition were found hidden under sacks of brown sugar.
The preliminary report also states that, unlike Cuba's claims the weapons were sent to the North for repair, the military hardware was exported for actual use by the North Korean military.
Also on Wednesday, a group of North Korean diplomats landed in Panama to meet with local authorities for the release of the 35 crew members who have been detained in the Central American country since the ship was seized.
"We are here to give consular assistance to our crew members and that's it."
"We don't know yet."
Panama's Ministry of Public Security earlier said it was willing to help the North Korean crew return home as long as Panama's legal process is correctly followed, but a swift release is far from guaranteed.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
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