U.N. Investigates Another Suspicious North Korea-Cuba Ship

Sunday, September 7, 2014
In July, we posted about another suspicious North Korean ship, Mu Du Bong, which after being exposed in Cuba -- with its required Automatic Identification System ("AIS transponder") turned off to avoid detection -- suddenly headed to Mexico, completely empty, where its "disoriented" captain accidentally grounded it.

The ship now remains moored at the port of Tuxpan, Mexico.

The Mu Du Bong, is operated by Ocean Maritime Management, Ltd., the same company that operated the Chong Chon Gang, which last year was caught smuggling 240 tons of Cuban weapons to North Korea.

Its route to Cuba and shadowy efforts to avoid detection there -- with its AIS transponder turned off for over ten days -- were remarkably similar to the Chong Chon Gang.

Just last month, we posed the question whether the Kim and Castro regimes could be so brazen to continue their illegal arms trafficking activities after getting caught red-handed last year.

Why not?

After all, the Castro regime was allowed to get away unscathed for this blatant (and record-setting) violation of international law, while Kim's regime merely got a slap on the wrist.

Today, we learn that the U.N. is now investigating the Mu Du Bong as well.

From Kyodo News:

U.N. experts to investigate North Korean ship moored in Mexico

A U.N. panel that upholds sanctions against North Korea's nuclear weapons program is sending personnel to investigate a North Korean cargo ship moored at a Mexican port, U.N. diplomatic sources familiar with the matter told Kyodo News.

The North Korean-flagged Mu Du Bong's recent visit to Cuba and its ties to Ocean Maritime Management Co., a Pyongyang shipping company involved in attempted arms smuggling, are probable factors in the investigation.

According to Equasis, a database created by European maritime authorities, OMM is the Mu Du Bong's safety manager.

OMM orchestrated an attempt to transport military aircraft parts, ammunition and other items with military applications from Cuba to North Korea aboard the cargo ship Chong Chon Gang in 2013.

The shipment was seized by Panamanian authorities in July 2013 after they received a tip on the illicit cargo, which was hidden under 200,000 bags of raw sugar.

On July 30, 2014, the U.N. Security Council Committee in charge of sanctions on North Korea called on U.N. member states to freeze assets and "economic resources" connected to OMM in their territories. The United States also instituted sanctions on OMM, the Mu Du Bong and other ships.

It is unclear if the asset freeze extends to physical property including vessels. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said in a statement at the time that the asset freeze meant OMM's "fleet of shipping vessels will no longer be able to operate internationally."

The Mu Du Bong crossed through the Panama Canal in mid-June of this year and traveled to Cuba later in the month before heading to the port of Tuxpan in the Gulf of Mexico where it is currently moored, according to online vessel tracking websites.