Political expediency and Turtle Bay politics will result in the United Nations ignoring illegal arms smuggling by the Cuban and North Korean regimes. Facts and law? Who cares about those. The United Nations plays with a different set of rules. The hate America first lobby will aid rogue regimes, even in cases where pesky facts clearly show a problem.
The incident, part of a larger scheme yet unknown, could have been ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel. After a few days at sea out of satellite tracking view (nothing suspicious about that), the North Korean tanker Chong Chon Gang docked in Cuba and loaded 10,000 tons of sugar. The Chong Chon Gang was seized a few days later on July 11, 2013 at the Panama Canal on suspicion of drug smuggling.
A little digging by Panamanian officials revealed a much sweeter bounty hidden beneath the burlap sacks filled with Cuban sugar. It was not the other white powder, rather they found two Mig-21 fighter jets, more than a dozen plane engines, motors, live munition, radar control systems for missile launches, as well as more than 200 metric tons of Cuban-made weapons, some of it in mint condition, ready for use.
After expressing the perfunctory righteous indignation, the North Koreans and Cubans said the items were shipped to Pyongyang for repairs, to be returned at a later time, also unknown. As former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld once said at an August 2009 press conference, it is the “unknown unknowns” of this case that should give folks a little heartburn.
According to an article in this week’s Miami Herald penned by Juan Tamayo, “Expert: UN unlikely to sanction Cuba for North Korea weapons,” we may never know what Cuba and North Korea were up to. It appears that the UN Security Council is going to treat the incident as yet one more footnote in the history of UN rogue regime politicking. A report due out Monday will likely whitewash the matter and no one, or country, will be sanctioned for it.
The Obama Administration? Tumbleweed. However, it should be asking questions such as who was the real end-user of the weapons? Was Cuba selling weapons to a third-party for use against the United States in, say, the Middle East? What was Cuba supposed to receive in return from North Korea for such a shipment? Was the shipment done with the full knowledge of high-ranking Cuban officials or was it a rogue element within the Cuban military just trying to make a fast buck or two? Was this the first time or has this happened before?
I could go on and on. But you understand. The fact is that the world may never know what these two nations were up to. And, next week, the United Nations will likely put an end to inquiries by publishing an innocuous report that, like the North Korean and Cuban reaction to the seizure, will express a prerequisite righteous indignation and tell the offending parties not to do it again.
Civilized nations do not ship weapons carefully hidden beneath burlap sacks filled with sugar. That is something criminals do. Enough said.