Panama finds arms on a North shipA vessel en route to North Korea from Cuba has been seized by Panamanian authorities for attempting to transport containers of suspected missile equipment through the Panama Canal.
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli posted on his official Twitter account yesterday that authorities have seized a North Korean-flagged ship with “undeclared military cargo.’’
In a second tweet, he said that the weapons were hidden under brown sugar containers. He also posted a photo of what appears to be greenish tube-shaped objects in a container.
“The world needs to sit up and take note: You cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal,” Martinelli said in an interview on Radio Panama late Monday, as quoted by AFP.
He added that the ship was initially stopped to be inspected on suspicion that it was carrying drugs.
Drugs were ruled out, he said on the radio program, but when officials started to unload the sugar, they “located containers that we believe to be sophisticated missile equipment, and that is not allowed,” said Martinelli.
He added that the captain of the North Korean ship tried to commit suicide and “the crew rioted.”
Around 35 crew members were detained, said Reuters. The ship is being held for further inspection.
Early last month, Kim Kyok-sik, the North Korean army’s chief of general staff, met with military leaders in Havana.
Cuba is the only communist nation in the Americas.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]