A team of U.N. experts reportedly has concluded that a shipment of obsolete Cuban arms interdicted in July en route to North Korea, allegedly for repairs, violated international sanctions, Agence France-Presse reported last week.
The North Korean Chong Chon Gang cargo ship was seized by Panamanian authorities as it attempted to pass through the Panama Canal. A search of the freighter’s hold uncovered 25 containers filled with Soviet-era systems including missiles, command-and-control technology, and two fighter jets.
The weaponry “undoubtedly violates U.N. sanctions, which supports the course of action Panama took,” the Panamanian public safety ministry said in a release, citing a draft report by the investigating U.N. team of sanctions experts. The investigators wrapped up their inspection of the cargo in August.
Cuba has said it was not exporting the arms to North Korea, merely sending them there for an overhaul after which they were to be returned to the Caribbean nation. Pyongyang’s payment for this work appears to have been a large shipment of accompanying sugar.
Separately, the Japanese Defense Ministry is interested in modifying its military alliance agreement with the United States to allow for Japan to carry out advance strikes on the military assets of enemy countries, Kyodo News reported on Tuesday.
Tokyo and Washington “need to thoroughly study a possible attack on (hostile bases) in the event of a missile launch clearly targeting Japan,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, in discussing North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities.
Onodera and his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, last week in a meeting in Brunei decided to hold further bilateral defense talks on the matter.
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