A North Korean ship carrying undeclared weapons was stopped before passing through the Panama Canal on Tuesday. The ship was traveling from Cuba and had weapons hidden in containers of brown sugar. Panama authorities who had suspected the ship was carrying drugs discovered the cache.
Panama President Ricardo Martinelli spoke about the incident on Panama Radio on Tuesday morning:
The world needs to sit up and take note: you cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal. We had suspected this ship, which was coming from Cuba and headed to North Korea, might have drugs aboard so it was brought into port for search and inspection. When we started to unload the shipment of sugar we located containers that we believe to be sophisticated missile equipment, and that is not allowed.
According to Mark Stone of SkyNews, the vessel is called Chong Chon Gang and is currently docked on the north side of the canal.
The N.Korean ship seized by Panama with 'weapons' on board is named as Chong Chon Gang. File image here: http://t.co/shNfbyE3U8— Mark Stone (@Stone_SkyNews) July 16, 2013
This live locator of the North Korean ship places it in dock on the north side of the Panama Canal: http://t.co/GieAYuvRy1— Mark Stone (@Stone_SkyNews) July 16, 2013
Panama hasn't released anything further about the nature of the weapons, but a missile shipment would "violate UN sanctions that prohibit North Korea from selling or purchasing advanced weapons systems."
The captain of the vessel attempted suicide when the ship was stopped.
Photo by Ricardo Martinelli via Twitter