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Cuba claims as own weapons found on N. Korea ship

  • photo_1374024470097-1-HD.jpg

    View of the North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang at Manzanillo harbour in Colon, 90 km from Panama City on July 16, 2013. Cuba has claimed as its own the arms found on board the North Korean ship that Panama impounded, saying the missile system parts were to be repaired and returned. (AFP)

  • photo_1374024652836-1-HD.jpg

    Graphic of the Panama canal, showing where a ship flying the North Korean flag was seized by the authorities. (AFP Graphic)

Cuba claimed as its own the arms found on board a North Korean ship that Panama impounded, saying the missile system parts were to be repaired and returned.

In a statement read on state television, Havana said the "obsolete" weaponry included anti-aircraft missile arrays, nine disassembled missiles and other parts, without mentioning where they were being sent.

"The agreements Cuba has signed in these areas are based on our need to maintain our defensive capacity to protect national sovereignty," the statement said.

Panama called Tuesday for UN investigators to inspect a shipment of suspected weapons parts aboard a North Korean-flagged ship as it tried to enter the Panama Canal last week.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli tweeted a photo of the suspected weapons cache, which experts have identified as an aging Soviet-built radar control system for surface-to-air missiles.

Panama said the contraband munitions were hidden under thousands of bags of sugar aboard the North Korean-flagged Chong Chon Gang.

Officials said if the shipment is determined to contain missile components, that could violate a UN ban on most weapons being shipped into or out of North Korea.