Panama asks U.S. for help with North Korean ship
Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli (L) is seen aboard of North Korean vessel Chong Chong Gang at Manzanillo harbour in Colon.
July 17th, 2013
04:41 PM ET

Panama asks U.S. for help with North Korean ship

By Barbara Starr

Panama has formally asked the United States for technical help to inspect Cuban weapons found on board a North Korean freighter it seized.

"The government of Panama has requested our assistance, and we intend to provide it," Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said.

"Generally speaking, the types of technical assistance we could provide include things like identifying the material on board, as well as providing personnel who are familiar with these types of inspections," she said.
The Panamanians asked for imaging equipment and technicians to fully examine and determine what is on board, according to a U.S. official.

The official declined to be identified because the person is not authorized to speak publicly.
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has publicly said he wants international inspectors to survey the ship's cargo.

A second official told CNN an initial assessment found that Cuba was sending aging weapons - including a radar, aircraft and missile parts - to North Korea for repair and upgrade as Havana has claimed.

The U.S. assessment also found that Cuba may be trying to further its arms relationship with North Korea due to Russian disinterest in performing the upgrade work.

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  4. A Real American

    The U.S. monitored the ship from the time it left Cuba heading back to N.K.. The U.S. recommended the ship be searched in depth by the Panamanians, which subsequently led to the discovery of the weapons that the CIA undoubtedly watched get loaded in Cuba. Then the government of Panama asks the U.S. to assist with the inspection of the weapons. Just another example of how the U.S. has become the policeman of the world, when we can't even take care of our own house. Shameful!

    July 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Reply
    • The Big Picture

      Well, if someone doesn't "police" the world, then your house wouldn't be there for long when rogue countries expand their weapons capability.

      August 11, 2013 at 9:05 am | Reply
      • Religious Guy

        So who defines rouge nations?

        August 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  5. George Patton

    well, Panama being ally, US should help them......not searching, but sinking it.

    July 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • .Ma

      Help build a Reef that's a capital idea give back for over fishing.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  6. John McKane

    For crying out loud, can't the Panamanians do anything for themselves? They illegally and irresponsibly seized a North Korea merchant ship which they had no right to do in the first place and now want us to give them a spare tyt in their obscene activity. Let these stupid Panamanians face the consequences of their stupid actions!

    July 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Reply
    • .Ma


      July 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Reply
    • Rick from LA

      Every country has the legal right to inspect cargo traversing their territorial waters. Inspecting a cargo ship in the Canal is like the TSA inspecting your carry on luggage.

      Seizing the ship is within their right for customs violations. They declared the sugar but not the hardware. While hauling military cargo is not in and of itself illegal, the manifest showed that intended destination of the ship was a embargoed country where transfer of such items is prohibited. Panama did the right thing.

      July 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
      • .Ma

        Just a troll trying to get a rise out of people. Hardware was hidden under the sugar.

        July 18, 2013 at 4:55 am |
    • Moderate Sean

      Oh, McKane, trying typing with some basis of knowledge and thought first, okay? I know you are just trying to get a rise out of viewers, but when a country has actionable intelligence that said ship might be involved in a criminal enterprise, i.e. transporting illegal drugs, the country where the ship is traversing or domiciled may stop, board, and search that ship. It's a country's right and obligation. This particular ship was being observed by both the U.S. and Panamanian officials prior to this point, but actually since the first time it entered the Canal enroute to Cuba. Spouting off from a lack of knowlwdge may be a right too, but it only makes you look pretty small!

      July 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Reply

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