Panama Seizes North Korean Ship with Weapons

Cuba has admitted being behind a cache of weapons found aboard a North Korean ship seized in the Panama Canal.

The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the ship was carrying obsolete weapons from Cuba to repair in North Korea.

The ship was seized by the Panama last week after "illegal military cargo" found hidden in a cargo of sugar.

United Nations sanctions prohibit the supply of arms to North Korea in the ongoing conflict on its nuclear programme.

However, a statement from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Cuba has reaffirmed its commitment to "peace, disarmament, including nuclear disarmament and respect for international law".

He said that the ship was carrying 240 tonnes of obsolete defensive weapons - two complexes of anti-aircraft missiles, nine missiles in parts and spare parts, two MiG 21 fighter planes bis and 15 engines MiG.

The Cuban statement said that they were all made in the middle of the 20th century and had to be repaired and returned to Cuba.

"The agreements signed by Cuba in this area are supported by the need to maintain our defensive capacity in order to preserve national sovereignty", the statement continued.

Cuba said that the ship has been mainly responsible for 10,000 tonnes of sugar.

Announcing the seizure of the vessel Tuesday, Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli said that it contained suspected "equipment advanced missiles".

He posted a picture of what looked like a large green object inside a cargo container on his Twitter account.

The president said the 35-strong crew had resisted the search and the captain had tried to commit suicide.

The United States "welcomes" Panama for his actions, and said strongly support a thorough inspection of the vessel.

The ship, the Chong Chon Gang, was arrested near Manzanillo on the Atlantic coast of the channel of the last week.

He had left the far east of Russia in April and has traveled across the Pacific ocean before entering the channel in early June, with Cuba as a destination indicated.
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