warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

North Korea Asks Panama To Leave Missile Carrying Crew Alone

Eric Parra |
July 17, 2013 | 7:26 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

South Korean Missiles set from 2012. Without any allies, North Korean weapons are much farther behind (creative commons)
South Korean Missiles set from 2012. Without any allies, North Korean weapons are much farther behind (creative commons)
Trouble in Panama arose when North Korean officials called on Wednesday for the crew members of a cargo ship being detained to be released. The ship is currently being withheld for inspections of Cuban missile components and other war material.

READ MORE: North Korea Removes Missiles From Launch Site

According to the Foregin Ministry of North Korea, the crew was only supposed to be detained for an inspection of drugs, and when none where found they should have been permitted to leave.

From L.A. Times

“Panamanian authorities had initially suspected that drugs were aboard the ship, but on Monday they discovered the undeclared components of a Soviet-era missile system.

The Cuban government Tuesday acknowledged that the missile components were its property. It said that missiles, as well as two MIG fighter jets and 15 jet motors, were also on board. Officials said in a statement that the Soviet-era components were being sent to North Korea for repairs and affirmed Cuba’s “commitment” to international law.”

Since the detainment, Panama has formally with the United Nation’s North Korea Sanction Committee, seeking guidance from the U.N. on how to handle the case. They are also awaiting technical assistance from the United States on the matter.

According to CNN: “The ship originated from Cuba, and Cuban officials admitted that the weapons on board were theirs. They described them as "240 metric tons of obsolete defensive weapons" sent to North Korea "to be repaired and returned to Cuba." 

The equipment and weapons found are dated back to the mid-20th century and mostly comprise of outdated Cuban missiles.

The captain of the ship allegedly suffered from a heart attack and attempted to commit suicide during the first investigation of the his vessel, but is still alive and is insisted to have been attacked by the Panamanian officials, according to North Korean statements.


Reach Executive Producer Eric Parra here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.