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Panama authorities to fine owners of detained North Korean ship smuggling rocket parts

August 07, 2013, 13:37 UTC+3
Waterway Administrator calls incident "breach of trust"
1 pages in this article
Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

MEXICO CITY, August 7 (Itar-Tass) - Owners of a North Korean ship sailing from Cuba which was detained in the Panama Canal with a batch of “weapons” will be fined “for breach of trust of administration of the inter-oceanic route.” Waterway Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano made this statement on Tuesday, specifying that the vessel’s captain failed to declare “in full” the cargo that the ship was carrying.

In this case it was “an attempt to break down the trust laid down in the rules of use of the inter-oceanic route,” Quijano said, without specifying, however, the amount of fines.

Administrator of the Panama Canal noted that this practice is applied in the event of the “provision of false information regarding transported cargo.”

He said the North Korean ship was ready for the voyage to the Pacific Ocean when it received a request from the country’s Ministry of Security expressing the need “to conduct additional checks.” As a result, during a planned inspection on July 10 it was found out that in addition to the declared batch of sugar the ship also transported “weapons.” Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli later confirmed the information, adding that rocket components were also found on the vessel.

Representatives of the Central American country reported that there were 12 engines for the MiG-21 fighter jets and two disassembled MiG-21bis fighters, as well as five military vehicles, which, as experts believe, “are mobile control units for missile launches.”

Panama’s Prosecutor in charge of combating drug trafficking Javier Caraballo stated that “ammunition and explosives” were also allegedly found on the detained vessel.

In mid-July, Cuba admitted that the vessel carried “long outdated and worthless” military equipment, which was sent to North Korea for repairs and subsequent return to the island. Panamanian authorities sent a special request to the United Nations to conduct an inspection of the cargo by experts of the organisation to determine “whether (this case) is violation of the UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit the export of weapons to North Korea and import of any weapons from there.”

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