Posted on Monday, 10.28.13
U.N. investigators visited Cuba to discuss N. Korean freighter
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
A team of United Nations experts was in Havana last week to talk about
the Cuban weaponry found aboard a North Korea-bound freighter this
summer, showing that Cuban officials have at agreed to discuss the
shipment, according to a Japanese media report.
Luxembourg Ambassador Sylvie Lucas, chair of the U.N. Security Council
committee that supervises sanctions on North Korea, told the Japanese
Kyodo News Service that the team of experts who advise the committee had
returned from Cuba on Friday.
Kyodo quoted Lucas as saying that the team went to Cuba for
"consultations on the consignments discovered" on the North Korean
freighter Chong Chon Gang.
She gave no other details, but the visit clearly signaled that the Cuban
government has been cooperating with the U.N. inquiry into the case
since the experts could not have flown to Havana without government
The team is headed by Martin Uden, a former British ambassador to North
Korea. He was not available for comment on this story.
The Chong Chon Gang was seized by Panama authorities in July on a tip
that it was carrying illegal drugs as it prepared to cross the Panama
Canal on a voyage from Cuba to North Korea. Instead, searchers uncovered
Cuban weaponry hidden under 10,000 tons of sugar.
Havana later confirmed the ship carried 420 tons of weapons but claimed
it was "obsolete" equipment on its way to North Korea to be upgraded and
returned to Cuba. Independent reports said some of the weaponry was in
North Korea has not cooperated with the U.N. investigators and does not
recognize the sanctions the Security Council slapped on the Pyongyang
government beginning in 2006 for its nuclear weapons and missile
The usual procedure for the experts would be to complete their
investigation and later write an "incident report" for the committee.
The experts have no deadlines for either their investigations or the
Incident reports can recommend that the committee designate people,
enterprises or countries as suspected sanctions violators, according to
Security Council diplomats. Such recommendations, however, are usually
reserved for those involved in a pattern of violations rather than
The 508-foot Chong Chon Gang, flagged in North Korea, carried three
anti-aircraft missile and radar systems, two MiG-21 fighter jets and 16
engines for the MiGs as well as artillery and anti-tank munitions when
it was intercepted in Panama.
North Korean shipping officials had declared that the freighter carried
only sugar as it prepared to transit the Panama Canal, which connects
the Atlantic and Pacific. Canal regulations require all ships to declare
any weapons or explosives on board.
Panama authorities said last week that they plan to free all but two of
the freighter's 35 North Korean crew members, who have been detained
since July, because they claim that they did not know the ship carried
weaponry. Only the captain and his top aide will continue in detention.
The freighter, the weaponry and the sugar remain under Panamanian control
Source: U.N. investigators visited Cuba to discuss N. Korean freighter -
Cuba - MiamiHerald.com -