Panamanians Seize Missile Components Headed to North Korea from Cuba

Via the NYTPanama Seizes North Korea-Flagged Ship for Weapons

The Panamanian authorities impounded a rusting North Korean freighter on a voyage from Cuba toward the Panama Canal and back to its home country, and said the ship was carrying missile-system components cloaked in a cargo of sugar. The arms would appear to represent a significant violation of United Nations sanctions imposed on North Korea.


The confrontation appears to have been somewhat dramatic:

[President Ricardo} Martinelli and other Panamanian officials said the vessel’s 35 crew members were taken into custody after they resisted efforts to redirect the vessel to the Panamanian port of Manzanillo, at the Atlantic end of the canal, and that the captain sought to commit suicide after the ship was detained. The captain’s condition was unclear.


The crew members were detained and taken to a naval base after they disconnected crane cables aboard their ship, in what Mr. Mulino called an act of “rebellion and sabotage.”

A photo from Martinelli’s Twitter feed shows one of the items in question:  click.

In an e-mailed statement, IHS Jane’s Intelligence, the defense consulting firm, said it had identified the equipment shown in the images of the seized cargo as an RSN-75 “Fan Song” fire control radar for the SA-2 family of surface-to-air missiles.

FILED UNDER: Asia, Latin America, World Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Matt says:

    Wow that’s some old school stuff.

  2. Franklin says:

    A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.

  3. Franklin says:

    Also, Van Halen approves.

  4. walt moffett says:

    Now to wonder who was selling and who gets missing from morning formation.

  5. stonetools says:

    NSA strikes again.

  6. Tyrell says:

    Are we monitoring shipments to North Korea and Iran? The US is certainly justified in ordering the Navy to stop ships going to those countries and inspecting the contents.

  7. rudderpedals says:

    Ancient but at an appropriate time it could have popped up radiating and taken a HARM for team…

    Brown sugar didn’t dance so good…

  8. bill says:

    eh, it’s baby formula………move along.

  9. Electroman says:

    @rudderpedals: Yes, ancient for sure – I think my father had those fired at him (no, really!). Still, the flying telephone pole is to be taken seriously.

  10. rudderpedals says:

    @Electroman: That’s neat. Not that he was shot at (I believe that) but that he came back to talk about it. What was your pop flying over there? I don’t think the HARM I mentioned was widely fielded until the m mid70s and it replaced a lesser thing that was slower and couldn’t home on an emitter that went away

  11. rudderpedals says:

    And absolutely one would not ignore the flying telephone pole. Maybe turn into the thing but not ignore it….

  12. walt moffett says:

    Seems the Cubans have admitted shipping the weapons to the DPRK to be repaired and sent back.

  13. rudderpedals says:

    @walt moffett: Good link. Now they’re talking about two fire control radars, a half dozen missiles to go with them, a pair of MiG 21s and 7 engines. A guy could start his own museum with the load.