HAVANA TIMES — Panamanian and North Korean officials met in Panama City starting Wednesday to discuss the situation of the “Chong Chon Gang” ship and the crew arrested on July 10. A subsequent search found that the vessel was carrying a cargo of undeclared military weapons.
The meeting between the two countries’ officials was confirmed by a statement from the Ministry of Public Security of Panama, reported dpa news.
Panama’s Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino, made known to the North Korean delegation his country’s “willingness” to help and repatriate the sailors as soon as possible for humanitarian reasons, “as long as it meets the legal provisions established by Panamanian law.”
In turn, drug prosecutor, Javier Caraballo said the North Korean vessel could be delivered to its owner or authorized representatives. But he warned that there needs to be cooperation from the government of Pyongyang in the process, since it was transporting undeclared Cuban arms.
An expert panel of the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations noted that the Cuban weapons found in the North Korean freighter violate, “without doubt,” the UN sanctions on North Korea.
The seized cargo includes 10,000 tons of sugar and “240 tons of obsolete defensive armament, including two complete Volga and Pechora anti-aircraft missile systems, Nine rockets in parts and pieces, two Mig-21 Bis aircraft and 15 engines of this type of aircraft, all manufactured in the middle of the last century,” supposedly to be repaired and returned to Cuba.