A U.N. report
released Tuesday found that Cuba violated a U.N. arms embargo when it tried to ship 240 tons of weapons to North Korea last July.
The arms included anti-aircraft missiles, MiG-21 jets, and engines for MiG fighter jets. The weapons were hidden in a freighter under 10,000 pounds of sugar.
The freighter was intercepted by Panamanian authorities en route to North Korea in the Panama Canal.
Some experts, including Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney and former CIA analyst Peter Pry, have expressed concern that the intercepted ship could have been a dry run by North Korea for a possible future electromagnetic pulse attack against the United States from EMP weapons carried by freighters.
Although Cuban authorities say the weapons were "obsolete," the U.N. report found they were still in their packing crates or had been calibrated just before they were put aboard the freighter.
Cuban insignias on the MiG-21s were painted over.
The weapons would have been a boon to North Korea's air force, which is in serious need of new aircraft and spare parts.
Cuban officials said the arms were being sent to North Korea to be repaired and returned to Cuba.
The Cuban arms shipment violated U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, passed in 2006, and Resolution 1874, passed in 2009, the report said.
Both resolutions imposed sanctions on North Korea in response to its nuclear program after it conducted nuclear tests.
The 127-page U.N. report said the shipments represent multiple and sophisticated techniques North Korea is using to evade U.N. sanctions. These techniques include efforts being coordinated by North Korean embassies in Cuba and Singapore, intermediaries, false shipping documents, and other measures.
The report noted two other shipments to North Korea intercepted in 2013: a shipment of aluminum fuel rods from China in March, intercepted by Japan; and a ballistic missile-related shipment last May that was intercepted by South Korea.
The U.N. report also said that last year there were suspected North Korean arms shipments from or military cooperation with Eritrea, Burma, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Iran, and Tanzania in possible violation of U.N. sanctions.
The report did not recommend sanctions against Cuba or North Korea for the July 2013 arms shipment. The U.N. Security Council is expected to take up the report in the next week.
Fred Fleitz served for 25 years with the CIA, the State Department, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He is currently Chief Analyst with LIGNET.com, Newsmax Media's global intelligence and forecasting service. Click HERE to read LIGNET's latest analysis.
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