Skip to main content

Panama: North Korea to pay fine for release of ship found with weapons

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 5:19 AM EST, Fri January 17, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Panama says it found fighter jets, explosives aboard North Korean ship last year
  • North Korea has agreed to pay $666,666 for the release of the ship, Panama says
  • Most of the ships crew members will also be allowed to leave the country
  • The weapons came from Cuba, which said they were going to be repaired in North Korea

(CNN) -- North Korea will pay a fine of more than half a million dollars next week for the release of a ship that last year tried to cross the Panama Canal with weapons smuggled aboard, Panamanian authorities said.

Panama stopped the North Korean cargo ship, the Chong Chon Gang, in July and found undeclared weaponry from Cuba -- including MiG fighter jets, anti-aircraft systems and explosives -- buried under thousands of bags of sugar.

The Cuban government said the shipment consisted of "obsolete" weapons being sent to North Korea for repairs before being returned to Cuba. But Panama said they violated United Nations arms sanctions on North Korea.

See what was found on North Korean ship
Ship seized
Cuba: Arms going to N. Korea for repair

Panamanian authorities had originally imposed a $1 million fine on North Korea over the shipment, which they said violated the security of the canal, a key waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

That fine has now been reduced by a third to $666,666, and the North Korean government has pledged to pay it next week, Panama's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Panamanian Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez Fabrega said 32 of the ship's 35 detained crew members would also be allowed to leave the country.

The three remaining crew members face charges of threatening collective security, he said.

Because it is pursuing nuclear weapons, North Korea is banned by the United Nations from importing and exporting most weapons.

READ: Panama says Cuban weapons shipment violates U.N. arms embargo

READ: U.N. inspectors set to look over North Korean shipment in Panama

READ: Cuba: 'Obsolete' weapons on ship were going to North Korea for repair

CNN's Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT