Posted on Tuesday, 03.11.14
UN: Cuba would not ID those responsible for North Korea arms shipment
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Cuba’s government refused to identify the people or entities involved in
a weapons shipment to North Korea last year that violated a U.N. arms
embargo, and might have violated the embargo twice more in 2012,
according to a U.N. report made public Tuesday.
Some of the weapons and equipment that Cuba described as “obsolete” had
been calibrated just before they were put aboard the freighter Chong
Chon Gang, the document added, and Cuban insignias on two MiG21
warplanes were painted over.
The report also declared that the shipment intercepted in Panama
violated the U.N. embargo on the Asian nation, and that despite Havana’s
denials there were indications Cuba intended to turn over the weapons to
the Pyongyang government.
Cuba’s 240-ton shipment was “the largest amount of arms and related
materiel” interdicted going to or from North Korea since the Asian
nation was hit with an arms embargo in 2006 because of its nuclear
weapons program, the document added.
The public part of the 127-page report makes no recommendations on
sanctions for Cuban or North Korean entities involved in the violations.
But it mentions a secret annex submitted to the U.N. Security Council
(UNSC) committee in charge of banking and travel sanctions on violators.
The U.S. State Department said it will “pursue appropriate action” based
on the report but added, “We do not view this as a bilateral issue
between the United States and Cuba. This is about a potential violation
of U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea.”
Anti-Castro activist Mauricio Claver Carone urged the Obama
administration to adopt “tangible repercussions that would make it
unequivocally clear to the Castro regime that such behavior isn’t
inconsequential. Otherwise, it will continue to feel emboldened.”
Cuba declared in July that it sent the weapons to North Korea to be
repaired and returned. It later argued to U.N. investigators who visited
Havana that they did not violate the U.N. ban on the “supply, sale or
transfer” of weapons to Pyongyang because Cuba retained ownership and
the embargo covers “maintenance” but not “repairs.”
Those arguments were rejected in the document Tuesday, the annual report
by the panel of U.N. experts that investigates all violations of the
North Korea sanctions. It was submitted last month to the UNSC committee
that enforces the embargo, and parts of it had leaked to the news media.
“The Panel is unconvinced by Cuba’s rationale to distinguish
‘maintenance’ and ‘repair,’” the report said, adding flatly that the
shipment “violated the sanctions.”
Although Cuba told the U.N. investigators that the state-run Cubazucar
had shipped the 200,018 sacks of sugar that covered and hid the weapons
on the Chong Chon Gang, it refused to identify the Cubans involved in
the weapons shipment and contract with Pyongyang.
The report said the weapons were loaded aboard the freighter at the port
of Mariel west of Havana that’s being expanded by a consortium of
Almacenes Universal S.A., run by the Cuban military and Brazilian
Packed in 25 metal shipping containers and six trailers were two
anti-aircraft missile systems, two MiG-21UM jet trainers, 15 engines and
afterburners for the MiG21s, artillery shells and other munitions and
materiel – most of it from the Soviet era.
While Cuba claims the weaponry was to be returned to the island, the
report said it was the “panel’s view that examining individually the
items and their (packaging) … suggest that some, if not all, of the
consignment was not expected to be returned to Cuba.”
And although Cuba claims the weapons were “obsolete,” the report added,
“records accompanying a great deal of the equipment indicated or
certified the equipment functioned in accordance with specification or
had been calibrated just prior to packing. Further, some of the
equipment was unused or still in its original packaging.”
What’s more, the report said, Cuba had confirmed that North Korean
military officers visited the island in 2012 to assess the weapons that
were shipped in 2013. If the visit was “to provide services or
assistance … they would also have been a violation.”
The report added that another North Korean freighter docked in April
2012 at some of the same Cuban ports as the Chong Chon Gang. Havana
claimed it made only one weapons shipment last summer, but the experts
could not confirm that claim.
The report also detailed the efforts to hide the Cuban weapons under the
sugar and the freighter’s failure to report its true cargo as it
prepared to cross the Panama Canal westbound to North Korea. Panama
intercepted the ship on a tip it was carrying drugs.
The document included the text of a message, marked “secret,” notifying
the captain of the freighter that he would be taking on some unscheduled
cargo in Cuba and telling him to inform only his deputy captain and the
political and security commissars aboard.
“After unloading in Havana … load the containers first and load the
10,000 tons of sugar (at the next Port) over them so that the containers
cannot be seen,” added the message, found aboard the ship.
“The extraordinary and extensive efforts to conceal the cargo of arms”
and the freighter’s failure to include the weapons in its cargo manifest
“point to a clear and conscious intention to circumvent” the arms
embargo, the report said.
Source: UN: Cuba would not ID those responsible for North Korea arms
shipment – Cuba – MiamiHerald.com –