Update on Cuba North Korea Missile Exchange

A few days ago, I posted an article on the possibility that North Korea and its Communist ally Cuba were planning some kind of threat to the US similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

A North Korean ship had been siezed by Panama officials under suspicion of drug trafficking. It turns out the ship was carting crates of what looked like missile parts. The crew’s behavior also reinforced the idea that something major was going on: the captain purportedly tried to commit suicide, the crew rioted, sabotaged the cargo crane, tried to outrun capture, etc. It was madness. It seemed serious.

But, like so much of the puzzling bravado coming from North Korea, it turns out that this contraband shipment was illegal only in the most technical sense.

The sugar shipment on its way to North Korea that seemed, on first blush, to be a decoy shipment to cover the more valuable missile parts, was in fact the price Cuba paid to North Korea to have them repair some 50s-era materiel, including some old Russian jets and a few missiles. The sugar was actually what North Korea wanted, not the spare parts, most of which were so outdated as to be little better than props.

What this shipment indicates really is how hard-up both countries are. Cuba can’t find anyone to sell it weapons, so it must repair the outdated weapons it acquired from the then Soviet Union at the outset of the Cold War. And North Korea doesn’t even have an exchangeable currency, so it does what it can to barter for food goods it desperately needs at home.

Although this exchange is technically a violation of U.N. sanctions against North Korea, it is very unlikely that anything will come of it. Reading the reports from U.S. and U.N. officials, you got the impression that they were trying hard to suppress laughter.

When you sweep away the chest-thumping, machismatic cults of personality, Communism is left looking very weak indeed. The only technically Communist country enjoying any level of financial stability, China, abandoned purely Marxist economic models decades ago.

6 responses

  1. It doesn’t pay to underestimate the enemy. And, with all that Obama has done, not too many countries are afraid, or in awe of, the US And, he has alienated most of our allies, if not all of them, & these countries know all of this.

  2. Obama has emboldened the (any and all) enemy.     His goal is to reduce America to the economic and social level of a Kenya.

  3. It doesn’t seem practical to remove 50’s era missile systems and ship them half way around the world to have them fixed. Then, after they are repaired ship them back, half way around the world again to Cuba. Why wouldn’t you just send the techs to fix them in Cuba.
    The ship has been navigating and making Port calls in the Middle East, it had it’s locator system turned off for several months, as has been reported by the Panamanian’s.
    Your not investigating this story in depth. What happened to Who, What, When, Where and Why?
    What gives with this type of “reporting” ?

    • Peter21 The north Koreans have now bragged about their nuclear capabilities and their new missiles systems, replacing the old systems with the new ones makes for a bigger propaganda message and renews the Cuban Missile crisis to new levels far in excess of what they were . That is why the repairs were not made in country. How many other ships are traveling into the North Korean ports supply they with equipment and food? that alone would be the biggest reason to turn off the locator systems allowing them to travel freely with out tracks to bring in and ship out items banned by the UN.

  4. This shipment for repair is quite common as many countries do not have the facility’s to do in-depth repair or rebuilds of foreign made military equipment. For many years Egypt used to ship it’s old soviet tanks, heavy armor and artillery to companies in Michigan to be refurbished. I’ll allways remember seeing Russian T60 tanks on flatbed trucks on the highway out side Detroit.

    • jdonald308 
      Thanks for the information.
      I can’t help wondering if the city of Detroit ever subsidized any of those repairs by way of exonerating road fees, highway escorts or the likes, hence the financial mess they are in?

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