Cuba has laid claim to a load of weapons found stashed on a North Korean cargo ship beneath a consignment of sugar, describing them as “obsolete”.
The ship which was en route for North Korea had been seized by Panama last week after a tip off.
In a statement read on Cuban television, the country’s foreign ministry said along with 10,000 tonnes of sugar the ship was carrying weapons made last century which were merely being sent to Pyongyang for repair.
Announcing the seizure of the ship Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli claimed the weapons included sophisticated missile equipment .
However a security expert viewing photos of the cargo said some of it looked like Soviet-made service to air missiles.
The president said his suspicions had been aroused when the crew and the captain had resisted arrest, with the captain even trying to kill himself. “After moving the boat to a local port it became clear after emptying one of the five compartments that there were probably more hidden beneath the sugar,” he added.
The US says if confirmed the missiles found could be a violation of Security Council resolutions.
UN sanctions prohibit the supply of arms to North Korea in the continuing dispute over its nuclear programme.