Denis Foynes – As the search of the seized North Korean ship, the Chong Chon Gang, continues in the Panama Canal, Panamanian authorities have now discovered two MiG-21 fighter jets.
Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli explained to reporters in the Atlantic seaport of Colon that along with the two supersonic planes, originally fashioned by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s, officials found two missile radar systems as well.
The planes had a strong smell of gasoline which suggests that they have been used recently.
After stopping the ship last week returning to Korea from Cuba, Panamanian officials found weapons aboard. They were hidden amongst thousands of bags of sugar that the Cubans were claiming were a gift from the people of Cuba to North Korea.
North Korea is breaching their arms embargo placed on them by the UN due to its nuclear missile program. Additionally, President Martinelli has stated: “One can’t take undeclared weapons through the Panama Canal below other cargo.”
Officials state that seven containers had been unloaded and inspected so far, but they believe more are still hidden beneath the ship’s “official” cargo of 10,000 tonnes of sugar. President Martinelli claims that around 27 containers are on board.
A UN inspection team is anticipated to arrive in early August once Panama has finished unloading the 155-metre vessel.
North Korea has requested that Panama release their ship and the arrested 35-man crew…a request that Panama flatly denied.