Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Cuba’s Criminal Regime and North Korea

by Elliott Abrams
July 16, 2013


After all the talk about hope and change and reform in Cuba, the old Stalinist regime of the Castros turns out to be in bed with North Korea and to be violating UN sanctions on that other Stalinist regime. Birds of a feather….

Today’s news tells us that a North Korean vessel traveling from Cuba to North Korea was stopped and searched near the Panama Canal. Lo and behold, hidden in the sugar were missile parts. As one news report put it,

Panama’s president says the country has taken control of a North Korean ship that was trying to illegally sneak missile materials from Cuba through the Panama Canal….”We had suspected this ship, which was coming from Cuba and headed to North Korea, might have drugs aboard so it was brought into port for search and inspection,” Martinelli said. “When we started to unload the shipment of sugar we located containers that we believe to be sophisticated missile equipment….” After examining images, intelligence officials told Fox News that the equipment is part of a “soviet era” radar system that accompanies the SA-2 surface to air missile.

Hugh Griffiths, an arms trafficking expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said the seized ship is called Chong Chon Gang and has been on the institute’s suspect list for some time….Griffiths also said the institute earlier this year reported to the U.N. a discovery it made of a flight from Cuba to North Korea that travelled via central Africa.” “Given the history of North Korea, Cuban military cooperation and now this latest seizure, we find this flight more interesting,” he said. “After this incident there should be renewed focus on North Korean-Cuban links.”

It is too much to hope that those who have bought the Cuban line about reform on the island would now acknowledge they’ve been hoodwinked. But for the rest of us, and for those wondering why there should still be an embargo on trade with Cuba, this is a reminder of the facts about the Castro regime.

Post a Comment 6 Comments

  • Posted by Chad

    “But for the rest of us, and for those wondering why there should still be an embargo on trade with Cuba, this is a reminder of the facts about the Castro regime.”

    Give the embargo where do you propose Cuba should refurbish its Soviet-era equipment?

  • Posted by Elliott Abrams

    I propose that it not violate UN sanctions on North Korea, that it not hide weaponry under bags of sugar, and that Cuba and the world would be better off if that equipment was never refurbished.

  • Posted by Griffin

    I don’t for a minute believe that Cuba sent the equipment to be refurbished. They sold it to make some money. If they wanted to refurbish it it they could have shipped back to the original manufacturer: Russia. More sensibly, they could have brought the technicians in to do the work.

  • Posted by Omar Ibrahim

    It is interesting to note that Mr Abrams can spare some of his valuable time and wide erudition to an American issue not directly connected to Israel.
    Not that he will not eventually develop, invent and find a connection,

  • Posted by Peter

    And now two MIG fighter jets and more than a dozen engines! I do not buy the refurbishment argument any more.

  • Posted by jenny maclain

    for goodness sake – stop all the trub – just blow NK up… sky high…. will solve ALL the probs!

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