Only the Cubans and North Koreans may ever know what compelled these two Cold War-era troglodytic regimes to recently ship North Korean weapon systems from Cuba under several metric tons of brown sugar. Both governments are lying about it because, in all likelihood, the shipment violated numerous North Korea United Nations sanctions.
As of this writing, several news accounts report that Panamanian authorities will need a few more days to uncover the cargo onboard the Chong Chon Gang. For now Panamanian officials have uncovered a lot of spare parts for anti-aircraft missile systems, two Russian Mig 21 fighter jets, and more than a dozen Mig 21 engines. Several Cuba experts and defenders in the U.S. have tried to downplay the incident by saying this is no big deal. The weapons are old, from the Cold War.
The age of the weapon systems does not really matter, the focus should be on actions and purpose. What did the Cubans plan to do with these systems after the repair? Did the Koreans plan to sell or ship them to others on behalf of the Cubans? Regardless, in age when training and supplies purchased at a local hardware store can be used terrorists to bring down passenger planes or detonate explosive devices in public areas, there should be cause for concern when a state sponsor of terror just 90 miles from U.S. shores is caught red-handed trying to illegally ship traditional tools of war.
This was not, as the Cuban and North Korean say, a sugar-for-arms transaction. If you believe the Cubans, Cuba was shipping the weapons to North Korea for renovation and, since it has no money, the Cubans would pay the North Koreans with sugar. This is a laughable, but no doubt that some of the regime’s defenders in Washington, DC are hoping that this true. The incident comes at a very inconvenient time for the pro-Cuba lobby in DC, as well as the Obama Administration, because they are seeking improved relations that will include resuming mail delivery with the U.S. and other goodies.
While the world waits for United Nations inspectors complete their investigation of the matter, the Obama Administration should immediately cease all discussions with the Cuban regime about normalizing relations. Cuba has nothing to offer the United States but lies and trouble. The regime has proven once again that it is incapable of being a responsible international player and that its spot on the U.S. state sponsors of terror list remains a good thing.
Some Cold War-era Fleetwood Mac music to liven the moment: