Cuba defended North Korea on Wednesday at the United Nations in The Hague regarding the sanctions the U.N. levied on Pyongyang for alleged human rights abuses.
A draft of a resolution prepared by Europe and Japan was presented to the General Assembly of the U.N. and recommends that North Korea be sent to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, including systematic torture, the presence of famines, and executions. The resolution was submitted to a vote tentatively scheduled for November 18.
North Korea has exerted pressure on other nations to oppose the resolution, accusing the country of systematic.
Cuba, like North Korea, belongs to the block of 120 non-aligned states, presented to the 193 U.N. member states an amendment to the draft, deleting the text about the INternational Criminal Court. Instead, Cuba suggested replacing the paragraph with an alternative, according to a copy of the text obtained by Reuters: "Decides to adopt a new cooperative approach for the consideration of the human rights in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea."
In July 2013, the U.N. had sanctioned a North Korean shipping company but spared Cuban entities in connection with a Cuban weapons shipment seized aboard a freighter headed from Panama to Pyongyang in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.
The U.N. Security Council committee that enforces the embargo said the company “played a key role in arranging the shipment of a concealed cargo of arms and related materiel from Cuba.”
The committee later blacklisted the ship's operator, Ocean Maritime Management, for breaking the embargo.
Cuba said they were obsolete Soviet-era weapons headed to North Korea for repair, while the U.N. committee maintains in a 127-page report that some of the weapons were brand-new, still in their original packaging, hidden under 10,000 tons of sugar on the ship.
A U.S. official told Reuters that most likely the cargo indicated that Cuba was sending missile parts to North Korea for an upgrade, and sending sugar as payment for the work. A security official said Panama had asked U.S. experts for their assistance in inspecting and identifying the weapons on board, according to Reuters.
In a statement read out on the state TV’s evening news, Cuba said the weaponry was all required “to maintain our defensive capacity to preserve national sovereignty.” It added, “Cuba maintains its commitment to peace including nuclear disarmament and international law.”