U.N. team to probe North Korean ship to arrive August 5: Panama

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 18, 2013 3:44 PM
U.N. team to probe North Korean ship to arrive August 5: Panama

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - A United Nations team sent to examine the North Korean ship seized by Panama for carrying arms from Cuba will arrive in the Central American nation on August 5, the Panamanian government said on Thursday.

Panama on Wednesday asked for the U.N. Security Council to investigate the ship, the Chong Chon Gang, whose cargo is suspected of being in breach of a U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

The team of five experts, including one from the Security Council, will arrive on August 5, said Demetrio Olaciregui, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. Panama's Security Ministry gave the same date for the team's arrival.

The United Nations has imposed various sanctions on Pyongyang, including strict regulations on arms shipments, for flouting measures aimed at curbing its nuclear weapons program.

Panama stopped the ship off its coast last week and seized its cargo after a tense stand-off with the North Korean crew. The 35 crew members were subsequently arrested and charged for attempting to smuggle undeclared arms through the Panama canal.

Authorities discovered missile equipment, MiG fighter jets and other arms aboard that Cuba said were "obsolete" Soviet-era weapons being sent to North Korea for repair.

Earlier on Thursday, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations said the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee would examine the case.

(Reporting by Lomi Kriel and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Sandra Maler)