Panama uncovers fighter jet engines from seized North Korea ship
Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:46pm EDT
COLON, Panama (Reuters) - Panamanian investigators unloading the cargo
of a seized North Korean ship carrying arms from Cuba under sacks of
brown sugar on Tuesday found 12 engines for MiG-21 fighter jets and five
military vehicles that officials said resembled missile control centers.
Investigators earlier this month had found two MiG-21 fighter jets and
two missile radar systems on board the Chong Chon Gang, which was bound
for North Korea when it was stopped by officials.
Panamanian Security Minister Jose Mulino said the cargo appeared to fall
within what Cuba had said was a range of "obsolete" arms being sent to
North Korea for repair.
Panama asked the United Nations to delay the arrival of investigators by
a week until August 12, because the process of unloading cargo found
under 100,000 tons of sugar has taken longer than expected.
About 25 percent of the sugar has been removed so far, Mulino said.
Investigators have gone through most of two storage houses in the
155-meter (510 foot) vessel, Mulino said, but three more warehouses remain.
The process has involved about 500 police since June 15 when Panamanian
law enforcement discovered the military equipment.
They initially pulled over the Chong Chon Gang after receiving a tip it
was carrying drugs, Panamanian law enforcement have said. Cuban
officials told Panama the cargo was a donation of sugar for the people
of North Korea.
Officials have found most of the weapons Havana said were on board,
including the two fighter jets, originally produced by the Soviet Union
in the late 1950s, and two missile radar systems.
No missiles have been found, and though officials originally feared one
container held explosive material, none was discovered.
(Reporting by Lomi Kriel; Editing by Ken Wills)
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