World News‎ > ‎

Fidel Castro Reacts To Seizure Of North Korean Ship In Panama

posted 28 Jul 2013, 12:02 by Mpelembe   [ updated 28 Jul 2013, 12:03 ]

Fidel Castro says seizure of North Korean ship in Panama for transporting old Cuban arms is an attempt to slander the Cuban government.

HAVANACUBA (JULY 28, 2013) (CUBADEBATE) -  Cuba's state-run website, CubaDebate, ran on Sunday (July 28) a lengthy article credited to former Cuban President Fidel Castro in which he says the seizure of a North Korean ship for carrying Cuban arms and two Soviet-era MiG fighter jets was an attempt to "slander" the Caribbeancountry.

The North Korean ship was seized in Panama two weeks ago on suspicion of smuggling drugs.

The ship was boarded after it failed to respond to requests and Panamanian authorities have since said they have discovered two supersonic jets among radar systems and surface-to-air missiles under thousands of sacks of sugar.

In the CubaDebate article Castro does not mention the ship directly, but writes of a recent "attempt to slander the Cuban revolution" and the Cuban government.

Cuban officials were quick to request the ship be released and Pyongyang has asked that the ship and crew, who have been arrested on smuggling charges, be returned.

Panama dismissed the requests last week after the U.S. government strongly backed its decision to seize the vessel.

The discovery has put the already isolated Asian nation under increased diplomatic pressure because the cargo is suspected of being in breach of a U.N. arms embargo against Pyongyangover its nuclear and ballistic missile program.

In the article titled "I've lived to fight" in Spanish, Castro said communist-run Cuba is against all nuclear weapons in all countries, "big or small," saying Cuba has never sought to build nuclear weapons.

The Castro piece was written to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the July 26, 1953 attack on the Moncada barracks which is regarded as the start of Cuban revolution.

Castro also pays tribute to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who would have celebrated his 59th birthday on July 28.