News / Asia

UN Sanctions Operator of N. Korean Ship Caught Smuggling Arms

North Korean sailors stand on the deck of the North Korean-flagged cargo ship Chong Chon Gang in Sherman Bay near Colon City, Panama, February 12, 2014.
North Korean sailors stand on the deck of the North Korean-flagged cargo ship Chong Chon Gang in Sherman Bay near Colon City, Panama, February 12, 2014.
VOA News

The United Nations imposed sanctions on the operator of a North Korean ship seized last year by Panama while trying to smuggle arms from Cuba.

The Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee voted late Monday to place an international asset freeze and travel ban on Ocean Maritime Management.

The committee said the company "played a key role in arranging the shipment," which included two Mig-21 fighter jets, missiles and other arms hidden under sacks of sugar.

"Obsolete" weapons claim

The Chong Chon Gang was stopped in July 2013 near the Panama Canal on suspicion of smuggling drugs. Cuba said it was sending what it called the "obsolete" weapons to North Korea for repairs.

But the U.N. committee said the concealment of the undeclared weapons "demonstrates intent to evade" international sanctions banning the export of arms to North Korea.

“Ocean Maritime Management Company, Ltd (OMM), played a key role in arranging the shipment of the concealed cargo of arms and related materiel,” the committee said in an implementation assistance notice.

“The concealment of the aforementioned items demonstrates intent to evade U.N. sanctions, and is consistent with previous attempts by the DPRK to transfer arms and related materiel through similar tactics in contravention of Security Council prohibitions,” the committee said.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, described the Chong Chon Gang incident as “a cynical, outrageous and illegal attempt by Cuba and North Korea to circumvent United Nations sanctions.”

She said the Security Council committee had “uncovered irrefutable facts that clearly prove Cuba and the DPRK's intentions to violate sanctions by employing highly sophisticated deception and obfuscation techniques.”

But some analysts, including University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moo-jin, question whether such moves are really effective at stopping North Korean weapons proliferation.

"When (a North Korean company) is listed to the sanctions by the U.N. Security Council or other western countries, North Korea just changes the name of the company into a different one. Companies related to the ship Chong Chon Gang would change their name to different ones, so I think the decision is symbolic but does not have any effectiveness,” Yang said.

North Korea is under an array of United Nations and U.S. and other countries' sanctions for nuclear and ballistic missile tests since 2006 in defiance of global demands to stop.

A U.N. report issued in March said North Korea has developed sophisticated ways to circumvent United Nations sanctions, including the suspected use of its embassies abroad to facilitate an illegal trade in weapons.

Concerned by cooperation

The Security Council committee said on Monday that investigation found indications that North Korean officials in Havana helped make arrangements for the Chong Chon Gang shipment.

“The committee encourages states to continue to exercise enhanced vigilance over DPRK diplomatic personnel,” it said.

The committee said it was concerned the military cooperation between Cuba and North Korea violated U.N. resolutions, which “prohibit the transfer from the DPRK by its nationals or from its territory of advice, services or assistance related to the maintenance or use of prohibited arms and related materiel.”

“This prohibition covers many activities including repair, diagnosis, monitoring, physical and chemical tests, and any related services for such items,” the committee said.

A Panamanian court on Friday ordered the release of the Chong Chon Gang's three North Korean officers. Thirty-two North Korean sailors and the ship were released by Panama in February.

Youmi Kim contributed to this report from Seoul. Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Freedom of Press

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs