S. Korea warned of N. Korean arms through Panama Canal, report says

MANZANILLO, Panama, July 22 (UPI) -- South Korea said earlier this year North Korea was smuggling weapons through the Panama Canal, a report said, before a weapons-laden ship from Cuba was found.

Miami's El Nuevo Herald, citing a "knowledgeable source", reported Monday South Korean officials complained earlier this year to Panamanian authorities that North Korea was smuggling cargo through the Canal in apparent violation of a United Nations arms embargo for Pyongyang's nuclear weapon and missile development programs.


A 510-foot freighter was detained last week in Manzanillo, Panama, on the eastern end of the Canal, for allegedly carrying 240 tons of contraband Cuban weapons bound for North Korea.

Another source, the newspaper reported, said Panamanian officials regarded South Korea's claims as merely part of the bitter rivalry between North and South Korea.

Sunday more than 100 cadets from Panama's National Police academy continued unloading 10,000 tons of Cuban sugar from the ship, which were used to hide weapons that included two MiG fighter planes, the newspaper said.

The ship, the Chong Chon Gang, was described as old and badly maintained.

"To call it filthy would be a compliment," Panamanian security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said.


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