U.S. Lawmakers Want Cuba Punished for North Korean Arms Shipment

Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire
Sept. 27, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — U.S. law­makers on Thursday called for Cuba to be pun­ished for its il­leg­al weapons deal­ings with North Korea, ar­guing the in­ter­na­tion­al-sanc­tions re­gime would be un­der­mined if the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil does not pen­al­ize Havana.

The world learned of Cuba and North Korea’s secret arms com­merce in Ju­ly, when Panamani­an au­thor­it­ies seized a North Korean freight­er, the Chong Chon Gang, as it at­temp­ted to sail through the Panama Canal. A sub­sequent search of the cargo ship’s hold re­vealed 25 con­tain­ers filled with So­viet-made con­ven­tion­al weapons. Havana quickly claimed own­er­ship of the mil­it­ary hard­ware, say­ing it simply was be­ing trans­por­ted to North Korea for ret­ro­fit­ting, after which it would be re­turned to the Carib­bean na­tion.

“Fail­ure to hold the Cuban gov­ern­ment fully re­spons­ible will … be a slap in the face to our al­lies,” Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mat­thew Sal­mon (R-Ar­iz.) said at a House For­eign Af­fairs sub­com­mit­tee hear­ing. “If Cuba is al­lowed to get away with this this time, it would send a ter­rible mes­sage to Panama which put its re­sources and its repu­ta­tion on the line to in­ter­cept this ves­sel.”

Sal­mon, who chairs the Sub­com­mit­tee on the West­ern Hemi­sphere, said not rep­rim­and­ing Cuba “in the strongest terms avail­able” risks send­ing the mes­sage to oth­er coun­tries it is not worth  pur­su­ing fu­ture pos­sible vi­ol­a­tions of the sanc­tions re­gimes tar­get­ing North Korea and Ir­an.

Oth­er na­tions, such as Venezuela, could be em­boldened to think they can vi­ol­ate Se­cur­ity Coun­cil sanc­tions tar­get­ing rogue na­tions and get away with it, he said.

The Ari­zona law­maker said Cuba was car­ry­ing out a “charm of­fens­ive” at the United Na­tions aimed thwart­ing any pun­ish­ment from the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil com­mit­tee that is re­spons­ible for sanc­tions against North Korea.

“Laws … that are not en­forced and de­fen­ded will lose value and re­spect,” sub­com­mit­tee Rank­ing Mem­ber Al­bio Sires (D-N.J.) said. “The U.S. and the U.N. should demon­strate that there are con­sequences to de­fy­ing in­ter­na­tion­al laws.”

Sub­com­mit­tee mem­ber Ileana Ros-Le­htin­en (R-Fla.) cri­ti­cized the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for hold­ing talks with Cuba on mi­gra­tion and re­sum­ing mail ser­vices when Havana was car­ry­ing out secret weapon deals with Py­ongy­ang.

“What mes­sage do you think it sends to our com­mit­ment to re­gion­al se­cur­ity, to move ahead with talks with the [Castro] re­gime, des­pite this blatant vi­ol­a­tion of in­ter­na­tion­al law like the one in­volving the North Korean ship?” the Flor­ida rep­res­ent­at­ive said.

A full ex­am­in­a­tion of the Chong Chon Gang’s hold by Panamani­an of­fi­cials turned up two anti-air­craft mis­sile sys­tems, nine broken-down mis­siles, anti-tank guns, small arms, ar­til­lery, rock­et-pro­pelled gren­ades and two MiG jet fight­ers,  among oth­er as­sor­ted aging con­ven­tion­al weaponry, ac­cord­ing to an Au­gust re­port by the Stock­holm In­ter­na­tion­al Peace Re­search In­sti­tute that was pub­lished by the web­site 38 North.

The en­tire weapons ship­ment was sub­stan­tially lar­ger and more di­ver­si­fied than what Cuba ini­tially claimed own­er­ship of back in Ju­ly, the SIPRI re­port found.

North Korea pre­dict­ably has denied do­ing any­thing wrong and de­man­ded that Panamani­an au­thor­it­ies give it back the Chong Chon Gang and re­lease its crew from cus­tody. Panama City has ig­nored those de­mands. The Panama Canal Au­thor­ity on Thursday im­posed a fine of up to $1 mil­lion on the ship’s own­ers, ac­cord­ing to a Re­u­ters re­port.

Sires said he doubted Cuba’s claim it was send­ing the weapons to North Korea for over­haul­ing.

“If only for re­pairs, then why did Cuba not ask oth­er na­tions in­stead of break­ing vari­ous U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil res­ol­u­tions,” he said. “With North Korea do­ing its best to re­fur­bish its mil­it­ary hard­ware, it is more likely that fight­er jets were in­ten­ded to stay in North Korea.”

SIPRI seni­or re­search­er Hugh Grif­fiths, who co-wrote the re­port, told the sub­com­mit­tee in an on­line video call that if Havana truly wants to show it was act­ing in good-faith in the Chong Chon Gang in­cid­ent, it must first in­vite in­vest­ig­at­ors from the U.N pan­el of sanc­tions ex­perts to the Carib­bean na­tion and provide full dis­clos­ure on all as­pects of deal — steps the Com­mun­ist gov­ern­ment there has not yet taken.

Grif­fiths said the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil sanc­tions pan­el should also in­vest­ig­ate voy­ages to Cuban ports by North Korean cargo ships that took place pri­or to Ju­ly.

“Some of these voy­ages may be as­sessed as car­ry­ing a high risk of pro­lif­er­a­tion con­cern on the basis of the ves­sel’s flag, age, past re­gis­tra­tion, own­er­ship pat­terns, its safety re­cord and, most im­port­antly, vari­ous voy­age rout­ing an­om­alies,” he said.

What We're Following See More »
SANS PROOF
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
1 days ago
UPDATE
NEW TRAVEL BAN COMING SOON
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
1 days ago
UPDATE
“WE’RE CHANGING IT”
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 days ago
UPDATE

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

FAKE NEWS
Trump Goes After The Media
1 days ago
UPDATE

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login