Panama finds munitions aboard N. Korea-bound ship

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm •  Published: August 2, 2013
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PANAMA CITY (AP) — Crews unloading a North Korean-flagged ship detained in the Panama Canal for carrying undeclared arms from Cuba have found live munitions on board, a Panamanian official said Friday.

Explosive-sniffing dogs found ammunition for grenade launchers and other unidentified types on munitions, said anti-drug prosecutor Javier Caraballo, who did not specify the amount of munitions.

The ship, Chong Chon Gang, was headed from Cuba to North Korea when it was seized in the canal July 15 based on intelligence that it may have been carrying drugs.

The manifest said it was carrying 10,000 tons of sugar, but Cuban military equipment was found beneath the sacks. No drugs have been found so far.

After the seizure, Cubans officials said the cargo included 240 metric tons of obsolete planes and missiles they were sending to North Korea to be repaired and returned. There was no mention of munitions or explosives in the government statement, and Cuban officials could not be reached immediately for comment Friday afternoon.

"We don't have a sheet or a list to determine if what we're finding corresponds to that specified by the Cuban government," Caraballo told reporters.

He said the munitions boxed were closed and would have to be examined by explosive experts to determine the amount and types.

The weapons discovery triggered an investigation by the U.N. Security Council committee that monitors the sanctions against North Korea. The council is sending a team to see if it violates U.N. sanctions. Panama earlier this week asked to postpone the visit to Aug. 12 because it is taking so long to unload the ship.

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