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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

UN team to inspect North Korean ship

Iran Press TV

Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:2AM GMT

A UN team of investigators will go to Panama in August to inspect a North Korean ship that was seized after weapons were found on board the vessel.

According to a Friday report by Reuters, Panamanian government officials said the five-member team of UN experts will arrive in Panama on August 5 to inspect the ship and determine the legality of the cargo.

On July 16, Panama said it had discovered the shipment after seizing Chong Chon Gang vessel and carrying out a drugs search. The arms, concealed under a sugar cargo, were undeclared, Panama government added.

After the announcement, Cuba said the stash of weapons found on board the ship were "obsolete" Soviet-era missile equipment, which were being sent to North Korea for refurbishment.

However, on July 17, Panama officially asked UN inspectors to examine the cargo while Panamanian Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said, "The cargo is illegal because it was not declared. Anything that is not logged, even if it is obsolete, is contraband."

On the same day, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the cargo was old weapons, which were slated to be returned to Cuba after being repaired "according to a legitimate contract."

The ministry added that the Panamanian authorities "should take a step to let the apprehended crewmen and ship leave without delay."

However, Panama did not respond to North Korea's request and said Pyongyang has no official representation in the Central American country.

"There are no North Koreans in Panama, and we do not have any plans to respond to them," the Panamanian security minister stated.

MR/HSN



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