Investigators in Panama found all sorts of interesting goodies when they stopped a North Korean ship passing through the Panama Canal last week, including some sugar, cables, and electrical equipment. Oh, and two MiG-21 fighter jets. Seriously.
Reuters reports that the ship was indeed carrying hidden weapons from Cuba, including two missile radar systems and the MiGs. Originally, the Cuban government said the ship contained sugar for the North Korean people, but they have now admitted the arms were being sent from Cuba to North Korea "for repairs." (What, you guys can keep a bunch of '52 Chevys running just fine, but not these?)
Astute Planelops know that MiG-21s are hardly spring chickens. Reuters says the planes found onboard were produced by the Soviet Union way back in the late 1950s. A kind of AK-47 for the skies, the MiG-21 still remains in service for a number of countries.
Despite their age, shipping MiGs through the Panama Canal — especially if you're North Korea — is super, super not okay. Panama has asked the U.N. to investigate the ship and its contents to see if North Korea is in violation of its nuclear and ballistic missile embargo. The ship's crew remains under arrest and charged with attempting to smuggle weapons through the canal.
Photo credit AP
Hat tip to Automatch in Oppo-town!