North Korea detained ship in Panama faces possible $1 million fine

By Vessels

 The Panama Canal authority informed some days ago that has the intention to fine with $1million the North Korean vessel caught with undeclared Cuban weapons.

Canal administrator, Jorge Quijano announced:
"It is a flagrant violation of safe passage through the Panama Canal and we have little tolerance for this kind of activity,"

"It is going to be sanctioned," he said.
"It's obvious that there were containers that had not been declared, not to mention what was inside them."

The curious thing in the story is that the ship was searched for drugs but the experts found, 25 containers of military hardware, including two Soviet era MiG-21s, air defense systems, missiles and command and control vehicles, hidden under tons of sugar.

Cuba explained that these arms were old and was sailing to North Korea for refurbishment under a legitimate contract.
Panama Canal authorities informed UN and asked the organization to send experts to investigate the shipment and to decide if there was a violation for arms transfers to North Korea.

The Panama Canal administrator explained that the fine for serious violations is up to $1 million.
He also said to AFP:
"The case of the North Korean freighter is very serious,"

Panama Canal authorities allow warships and ships transporting military materials to pass through but there are procedures for the passage. The canal is an important checkpoint for world's trade and for that reason the security is at first place.
Statistics shows that for the last 24 months only 4 North Korean flagged vessels have transited the Panama Canal.

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The Panama Canal is long 77.1 km (48 mi) and is an important connection between the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean. It is an important route for the world maritime trade.