Catching Up On North Korea and Cuba:

It’s been a while, and yes, I know this is old, but it’s better late than never:
All aboard the ChongChonGang! North Korea repairs outdated equipment for Cuba, and Cuba gives them 10,000 tons of sugar.

Yeah… Just throw in some Ukranians into the mix, and there’s nothing like sugar to sweeten the deal, baby!

Nice try, North Korea and Cuba. Still illegal though. Stephen Haggard explains why:
http://www.piie.com/blogs/nk/?p=10921

As always, the folks over at Sino-NK keepz it real, and sheds some light on how this plays out according to the “Simultaneously Advancing Line” (병진로선/並進路線), and how history has a funny way of showing up at your front door:
http://sinonk.com/2013/07/17/byungjin-nixon-1962-kim-jong-un

The North Koreans who stand behind the country’s unified voice are historically-oriented, and may be responding now, sometimes reflexively, sometimes manipulatively, to events which happened decades ago. Not only that: historical touchstones have a way of changing, or of being reinterpreted. What was once obscure suddenly comes front and center.

One such event is the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea in 1958 by the United States, an act which was preceded by the UN command – not the North Koreans – nullifying portions of the armistice.

Something tells me that had the ChongChongKang not gone through the Panama Canal, (a former US annexaton), they might not have been caught…
http://www.theasian.asia/archives/79315
…That, and maybe if it weren’t previously embroiled with similar cases…
http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2013/07/17/north-korean-ship

For more on the Chonchongkang, here’s a spec from YTN [in Korean]:
ChongChonKang Specs

Oh well, one wonders how this incident will shift DPRK-Cuban relations. Will it be like this?



UPDATE: August 30, 2013
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/28/us-panama-northkorea-idUSBRE97R1CJ20130828
http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2013/08/28/under-tons-of-sugar-lethal-cargo

Here’s what was also in the cargo hold, according to a new report by a Swedish arms-control institute:
* small arms and light-weapons ammunition
* night-vision equipment
* rocket-propelled grenades
* artillery ammunition for anti-tank guns

And here’s what it was likely for, according to the report: bolstering North Korea’s military capabilities—not for repairing and returning to Cuba.

The report, authored by Hugh Griffiths, a senior researcher and expert on arms trafficking with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, will likely confirm the suspicions of many North Korea watchers, who greeted Cuba’s initial explanation with skepticism.

Mr. Griffiths, in fact, concludes that the shipment was “without a doubt a violation of United Nations sanctions on North Korea,” since it includes conventional artillery ammunition buried beneath the sugar.

The report referred to can be found here:
http://38north.org/2013/08/hgriffiths082713

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