It turns out that all those crazy, intransigent, hardliner Cuban Americans who obviously know nothing about Cuba and are driven only by pure hatred were right after all. The bitter-sweet truth is that despite the propaganda disseminated by “Cuba Experts” and Castro operatives here in the U.S., Cuba’s Castro dictatorship was and continues to be a supplier of illicit arms to the world’s most vile despots and terrorists. In other words, Cuba is a State Sponsor of Terrorism as we have said all along.
Under Tons of Sugar, Lethal Cargo
So what exactly was in the cargo hold of that North Korean vessel intercepted in the Panama Canal last month?
So what exactly was in the cargo hold of that North Korean vessel intercepted in the Panama Canal last month.
The North Korean-flagged Chong Chon Gang was sailing from Cuba, whose foreign ministry said at the time that it carried 10,000 tons of sugar and 240 metric tons of “obsolete defensive weapons,” including disassembled missiles, two MiG-21 Bis jet fighters and two disassembled antiaircraft missile complexes, “to be repaired and returned to Cuba.”
Here’s what was actually in the cargo hold, according to a new report by a Swedish arms-control institute:
* small arms and light-weapons ammunition
* night-vision equipment
* rocket-propelled grenades
* artillery ammunition for anti-tank guns
And here’s what it was likely for, according to the report: bolstering North Korea’s military capabilities—not for repairing and returning to Cuba.
The report, authored by Hugh Griffiths, a senior researcher and expert on arms trafficking with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, will likely confirm the suspicions of many North Korea watchers, who greeted Cuba’s initial explanation with skepticism.
Mr. Griffiths, in fact, concludes that the shipment was “without a doubt a violation of United Nations sanctions on North Korea,” since it includes conventional artillery ammunition buried beneath the sugar.
With an official report from a U.N. panel on North Korea yet to be published, Mr. Griffiths based his conclusion on photographs of the seized cargo that he obtained, as well as an unpublished report produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime together with Panama’s naval air service, national police force, presidential security and defense force, attorney general and customs authority.
That unpublished report showed the rocket-propelled grenades, in particular, were shipped mostly in their original packing cases, making them unlikely items for repair and return to Cuba. “Rather, these items were intended simply for delivery to North Korea for its own use,” Mr. Griffiths concludes.
Given the North’s long-standing pursuit of MiG-21 fighters, as well as the way in which the jet engines and parts were packaged on the Chong Chon Gang, Mr. Griffiths argues that they were almost certainly destined for use by North Korea’s air force.
More broadly, Mr. Griffiths, who closely tracks North Korea’s trafficking in banned weapons, suspects that the Panamanian discovery was merely “the tip of the iceberg” of illicit North Korean weapons shipments, and likely the result of a tip-off by U.S. authorities.
Mr. Griffiths’ full report can be found at 38 North, a website of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where it was published late Tuesday.