U.N. Experts to Investigate Cuban Arms Shipment to N. Korea

National Journal

An undeclared arms shipment found onboard a North Korean freighter will be investigated by a team of U.N. experts during a three-day trip, the Associated Press reported.

The Chong Chon Gang in mid-July was stopped en route to North Korea by Panamanian officials, who thought the ship might have been carrying drugs from Cuba. A search of the cargo resulted in the discovery of Soviet-era weaponry that was reportedly being transported to North Korea so that the Asian nation could overhaul the equipment before returning it to Cuba.

The U.N. team will consist of six members and is to arrive in Panama on August 13. An initial report will be followed by a more extensive one after the trip, according to the AP report.

Whether or not the cargo being shipped breached a U.N. arms embargo against North Korea has not been discussed by either the U.N. Security Council or the sanctions committee, according to the wire service. Neither group will discuss a possible violation of the embargo until after the report has been filed, according to a U.N. ambassador interviewed by the publication.

The Security Council has "commended Panama for the swift action and for informing the committee and immediately inviting the committee and the panel to assist," according to the original AP story.

Meanwhile, the dispute over the shuttered Kaesong plant -- a joint economic venture between South and North Korea -- could hinge on North Korea's willingness to claim responsibility for the closure. Pyongyang must guarantee that it would never try to close the plant again, according to Yonhap News Agency. North Korea on Wednesday said it wanted to find a solution to the dispute.

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