Panama Seizes North Korean Arms Shipment

Missiles and other arms were found in a ship sailing from Cuba.

(Rodrigo Arangua/AFP via Getty Images)

The North Korean vessel that allegedly sailed from Cuba and tried to illegally sneak suspected missile components through the Panama Canal.

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Panamanian authorities say they have seized a ship bound for North Korea that appears to contain ballistic missiles and other arms.

This ship, which sailed from Cuba, contained undeclared military cargo of missiles and nonconventional arms, The Associated Press reports Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli as saying. The ship's contents were in violation of United Nations regulations against arms trafficking.

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The Panamanian government has not yet offered any further details on the arms, other than they were hidden beneath a shipment of sugar. Martinelli posted a picture on Twitter late Monday night that shows a green tubular device found in the ship's hold.

"We're going to keep unloading the ship and figure out exactly what was inside," he said in a radio address, according to the New York Times. "You cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal."

Roughly 35 North Koreans were on board, and they resisted arrest after the police boarded the ship at the Caribbean port of Manzanillo. The captain of the ship suffered a heart attack and tried to commit suicide, according to the AP. The authorities investigated the ship after receiving a tip about a drug shipment.

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The crew remains in custody.

Arms shipments remain a key source of income for the hermetic Asian nation. The Times reports the U.S. blacklisted a general in Myanmar for purchasing military supplies from North Korea in early July.

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