Posted on Wednesday, 05.21.14
U.N. may go lightly on Cuban weapons to North Korea
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Chinese and U.S. diplomats at the United Nations may turn a Cuban
shipment of weapons to North Korea last year into a sort of "teaching
moment" on violations of the U.N. arms embargo on Pyongyang, according
to a U.N. publication.
The publication also indicated that U.S. diplomats have prepared
proposals to add people or enterprises involved in the Cuban shipment to
the U.N. Security Council's list of violators of the U.N. embargo, but
might not submit it.
The report appeared to signal that Cuba will suffer little more than a
slap on the wrist for the arms shipment, said Mauricio Claver-Carone,
director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy political action committee, which
supports U.S. sanctions on Havana.
"Apparently, they feel Cuba just didn't understand the rules" of the
8-year-old U.N. arms embargo on North Korea, Claver-Carone said.
North Korea's Chong Chon Gang freighter was seized in Panama on July 15
with a load of Cuban weapons, hidden under tons of Cuban sugar. It was
described by U.N. experts as the largest single shipment intercepted
under the U.N. embargo on Pyongyang.
A panel of U.N. experts on the weapons ban ruled in February that the
shipment clearly violated the embargo despite Cuba's claim that the
equipment was not being transferred to Pyongyang, but rather was to be
repaired, serviced and returned to Havana.
The panel of experts recommended the issuance of "an implementation
assistance notice (IAN) to remind states that the arms embargo also
includes services and assistance," said a report in What's In Blue, a
publication of the U.N. Security Council.
"It appears that the U.S. has already conducted negotiations with China
on a draft IAN that could be presented" to the committee of the Security
Council that supervises enforcement of the arms embargo, added the
report, dated Monday.
The United States "has also prepared designation proposals that could be
taken forward, but it is not expected to do so unless there is a good
chance of getting the approval of all Council members," the report
added, giving no further details.
The enforcement panel, officially called the "1718 Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sanctions Committee," maintains a list of
"designated" people and enterprises that have violated the U.N. embargo.
No Cubans are listed in the current list.
The report by the panel of U.N. experts said that the Cuban government
had refused to provide the identities of the Cuban officials and
companies involved in the Korean shipment because the contract with
Pyongyang required secrecy.
The U.S. diplomatic mission to the United Nations did not reply to
requests for comment on the What's in Blue report. Secretary of State
John Kerry said earlier this month that the Obama administration is
working with other U.N. countries "to ensure a vigorous response, to
shine a light on this activity and get accountability."
But China and Russia, both allies of Havana with vetoes in the Security
Council, would be unlikely to approve strong sanctions on Cuba, said an
expert on the North Korea arms embargo who asked for anonymity because
she was not authorized to comment.
The embargo is part of the U.N. sanctions slapped on Pyongyang starting
in 2006 as a result of its nuclear weapons and long-range missile
development programs. Entities on the "designated" list can come under
travel and banking sanctions.
Cuba's shipment included 240 tons of mostly Soviet-era weapons and
munitions, including anti-aircraft missile systems, two MiG-21 warplanes
and 15 engines and afterburners for the jets.
The weapons were loaded aboard the freighter in the port of Mariel west
of Havana, then hidden under more than 200,000 sacks of sugar loaded
later in a different port to the east. The ship did not declare the
weapons as it prepared to cross the Panama Canal on its trip back to
Source: U.N. may go lightly on Cuban weapons to North Korea - Cuba -