North Korea to Panama: Give Back Our Ship

'Aging' weapons due for repair, return: Pyongyang
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2013 1:43 AM CDT
Updated Jul 18, 2013 4:03 AM CDT
North Korea to Panama: Give Back Our Ship
A police officer stands guard aboard the North Korean-flagged freighter Chong Chon Gang at the Manzanillo International container terminal on the coast of Colon City, Panama, July 17, 2013.   (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

North Korea is finally weighing in on the seizure of its ship by Panama, and it says the weapons found on board are simply for repair and return to Cuba. "This cargo is nothing but aging weapons which are to be sent back to Cuba after overhauling them according to a legitimate contract," says Pyongyang's foreign ministry, per state news. "The Panamanian authorities should take a step to let the apprehended crewmen and ship leave without delay."

The Chong Chon Gang's 35 crew members are set to be charged with crimes against Panamanian security, officials say, via the BBC. Meanwhile, Panama says it's likely to give the ship to the UN. It's calling on the organization to look into whether sanctions were violated; supplying weapons to North Korea is banned. "It's going to be transferred to the UN Security Council; they will decide what to do," says Panama's security minister, per Reuters. UN investigators are set to visit the ship at the end of the month, Panama says. (Read more Cuba stories.)

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