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Panama calls in UN to inspect North Korean arms ship


Panama

Panama calls in UN to inspect North Korean arms ship

The UN and US are to send a team of experts to inspect a North Korean ship seized in Panama.

The freighter was carrying soviet-era missile equipment, fighter jets and radar system parts buried under thousands of tons of raw Cuban brown sugar.

The Panamanian government has brought criminal charges against the ship’s crew for not declaring the shipment of weapons belonging to Cuba.

Javier Caraballo, Panama’s anti-drugs prosecutor said “today we formulated charges against the sailors. The vast majority of them availed themselves of their right not to testify. It was a difficult task due to fact that they don’t speak the language but we had the help of translators.”

Cuba says the weapons were “obsolete” and being sent to North Korea for repair.

Under current sanctions, all U.N. member states are banned from supplying or transferring arms and equipment to make them to North Korea.

The North Korean freighter was seized on Monday as it headed for home through the Panama Canal.

North Korea has urged Panama to release its ship and crew without delay.

Panamanian authorities said it might take a week to search the ship, as they have so far only examined two of its five container sections.

The team of weapons experts is due to arrive in Panama on August 5.

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