From Investors Business Daily.
Cuba, long derided in international policy circles as a basket case and no threat to the U.S., has been caught smuggling weapons of war to North Korea in blatant violation of U.N. sanctions. This is a wake-up call.
Sharp-eyed Panamanian authorities, watching the North Korean freighter Chong Chon Gang since June, received intelligence it might be shipping illegal drugs, something it had been caught doing before.
As the vessel lumbered into the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal from Cuba, Panamanian authorities cornered the 450-foot rust-bucket, battled a maniacally violent crew who slashed ship lines to make it hard to unload the ship, and then watched as the ship’s captain tried to kill himself before having a heart attack.
After subduing the crew, the Panamanians found no drugs buried beneath sloppily packed brown sugar, but did find defensive RSN-75 “Fan Song” fire-control radar equipment for SA-2 surface-to-air missiles.
The discovery, and the crew’s behavior, were signs of something big the North Koreans didn’t want known — weapons smuggling, a violation of both United Nations sanctions prohibiting all sales of weapons to North Korea and Panama’s own laws governing the canal.
“You cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal,” declared Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, a U.S. ally, who tweeted a photo of the illegal shipment for the world to see.
It’s significant that the enabler of this violation of international law was none other than Cuba, which has worked hard to convince the Obama administration to drop all travel and trade sanctions against it — and which is currently negotiating a migration pact with the U.S. It’s time to stop that right now, and sanction Cuba further.
The brazen shipment of Russian-made weapons through Panama signaled that little has changed in Cuba — a state sponsor of global terror that has in fact been trying to destroy the U.S. since 1962.
“This is a serious and alarming incident that reminds us that the North Korean regime continues to pursue its nuclear and ballistic programs, and will stop at nothing in that pursuit,” said House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “It also illustrates that the Castro tyranny continues to aid and abet America’s enemies and continues to pose a national security threat to the United States so long as the Castro apparatchik holds control over the island.”
It’s also the work of a rogue state. And at just 90 miles away, one that is as chillingly close to our shores as it is warm and friendly to North Korea.
[…]Although it’s unknown why North Korea, a major weapons exporter, is importing weapons from Cuba right now, defense analysts speculate that the weapons may be making their way back to Pyongyang for an upgrade and return to Cuba.
That would be worrisome given that North Korea has said it means to strike the U.S. on its own home turf. What better launching pad could it ask for than Cuba?
Two weeks ago, North Korea’s military commander visited Cuba to a red-carpet welcome. The visit raises questions as to what the two discussed — and, given the threat we see now, whether U.S. intelligence was aware of it.
If there is one thing that the United States definitely should not do, it’s dropping sanctions against Cuba.