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The UN will determine whether the maritime transportation of such arms – including radar system parts, missiles, and even two jet fighters, discovered by the Panamanian coast guard buried beneath thousands of tons of raw Cuban brown sugar – constitutes a violation of the weapons sanctions imposed on North Korea.
The sanctions regimen prohibits North Korea from buying or selling arms, missiles or components, but international arms experts have alleged that Pyongyang has been flouting UN law and supplying weapons to Syria, Iran and a number of African countries.
In the meantime, North Korea has demanded that Panama release the ship’s captain and 35 crew members who were detained on charges of “attempts against Panama’s security” and “illegally transporting undeclared military equipment”. The captain had tried to commit suicide when the freighter was boarded on Tuesday.
Cuban and North Korean officials said that the ship carried aged weapons to be repaired in North Korea and returned to Cuba. The sugar was intended as a form of payment from Cuba to North Korea for its repair services.