North Korean arms shipment seized in Thailand

posted at 2:55 pm on December 14, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Thai officials, acting on a tip from the US, boarded a North Korean cargo plane that supposedly carried oil-drilling equipment on its way to “a south Asia nation.”  What did they find?  Around thirty-five tons of weaponry, including missiles and explosives.  Israel Matzav reports that Israeli news radio reported the destination of the weaponry as Hamas and Hezbollah:

Thirty-five tons of North Korean weapons, including missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives, have been seized from a Russian transporter plane that stopped to refuel in Bangkok during an apparent arms run to Asia.

The huge cache, uncovered by Thai authorities on a tip-off from the US, was allegedly being shipped illegally to ”a south Asian country” to help North Korea beat United Nations sanctions on arms trading.

There was a suggestion yesterday from the Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, that the arms may have been bound for terrorist organisations.

”We are not yet clear why they were transporting these weapons … security and intelligence services are continuing to investigate … It is not yet clear if this is terrorist activity,” he said.

Impoverished North Korea earns more than $US1 billion ($1.09 billion) a year selling weapons, but the UN banned it from moving any arms in or out of the country after it conducted a nuclear test in May.

Who else buys North Korean munitions, especially missiles and explosives?  UN nations are supposed to abide by the sanctions regime placed on Pyongyang after its nuclear tests.  The only entities that need resupply on missiles and explosives and which can’t purchase such materiel openly are terrorist organizations.

Thailand has arrested the men on the airplane, who insisted that the cargo was benign.  None of the five are from North Korea.  Instead, the crew was comprised of four Kazakhs and a Belarussian, who flew the plane empty from Russia to Pyongyang, which may create even more international intrigue on this story.  They could wind up with life imprisonment for illegal munitions dealing, but it’s a lot more likely that the Thais and the US will use that threat to gain more intel on Kim Jong-il’s illegal arms dealing.

Al-Jazeera has a good report on the story:

If they’re intended for Hezbollah and Hamas, that’s bad enough. If the weapons were intended for smuggling into Pakistan, it will present a new problem for Barack Obama in dealing with Kim. Weapons going to the Taliban would have been used against American soldiers in the region, which would make North Korea technically a part of the Taliban’s war effort. Will Obama continue to offer normalized relations as a carrot if that turns out to be the case?


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So the Chinese harvest organs and the Norks do arms.

WashJeff on December 14, 2009 at 2:58 PM

So, is this enough going to be evidence that Obama and the U.N. won’t recognize again, because North Korea is to shakey to do anything?

Hmmm… anyone want to wager, they are trading for yellow cake?

upinak on December 14, 2009 at 3:02 PM

B+

Firebird on December 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM

When I read over the weekend of the 35 tons of NKorean armaments seized, I wondered whether the seizure is simply for show, allowing the arms to reach their destination(s) intact but being forced to pay the middle-man bribe in Thailand. Will N.Korea suffer for this in any way, not likely with Obama in charge of the US and UN Security.

maverick muse on December 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Vewwy vewwy intewesting…
curiouser and curiouser…

NTWR on December 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM

What did they find? Around thirty-five tons of weaponry, including missiles and explosives.

Act of war.

Go get ‘em, Bibi.

mankai on December 14, 2009 at 3:04 PM

B+

Firebird on December 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM

:)

I guffawed!

mankai on December 14, 2009 at 3:04 PM

We need a sternly worded email to North Korea.

SouthernGent on December 14, 2009 at 3:05 PM

I don’t care who the freaking US POTUS is – the U.S. intelligence operatives rock in my view. True heroes who stall never be known.

God bless.

jake-the-goose on December 14, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Will Obama continue to offer normalized relations as a carrot if that turns out to be the case?

I’m betting that Dear Liar will double down on normalization. Heck, he might even go to Pyongyang.

rbj on December 14, 2009 at 3:06 PM

If the weapons were intended for smuggling into Pakistan, it will present a new problem for Barack Obama in dealing with Kim

Would that be the same Pakistan that would be providing Iran with blueprints for a nuclear bomb triggering device?

fourdeucer on December 14, 2009 at 3:07 PM

You know that this admin is a huge farce when all the good punchlines are in the first 10 comments.

nolapol on December 14, 2009 at 3:08 PM

jake-the-goose on December 14, 2009 at 3:05 PM

+100

nolapol on December 14, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Firebird, yep.

Simultaneously B+ AND Incomplete.

Obama’s transparency trips him up again with more evidence that he never traditionally earned degrees that he touts without transcripts, without record of daily attendance, assigning himself his own self serving grades for his own self appointed assignments, absent of traditional curriculum.

maverick muse on December 14, 2009 at 3:10 PM

Where do the Norks get the raw materials for this stuff? China? Or the electricity to make this stuff?

WashJeff on December 14, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Obviously, Bush’s fault.

RBMN on December 14, 2009 at 3:12 PM

the U.S. intelligence operatives rock in my view. True heroes who shall never be known. God bless.–jake-the-goose

God bless them to protect our Constitution.

maverick muse on December 14, 2009 at 3:13 PM

What about Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka?

PhasedArrays on December 14, 2009 at 3:15 PM

I’m betting that Dear Liar will double down on normalization. Heck, he might even go to Pyongyang.

rbj on December 14, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Yea, and probably bow to “little Kim.”

farright on December 14, 2009 at 3:16 PM

I wonder what kind of interrogation techniques will be used on the crew and if it will be the Thais or US interrogators. Either way I hope they spill their guts and we find the who, what, where and when these arms were intended for.

fourdeucer on December 14, 2009 at 3:19 PM

I wonder how many billions in aid we’ve sent to that country.

scalleywag on December 14, 2009 at 3:22 PM

The Jews get stuff from Americaaaah!!!!

It’s only fair!

Who am I?

Sonosam on December 14, 2009 at 3:23 PM

WashJeff on December 14, 2009 at 3:11 PM

You’re right to see the symbiotic relationship between N.Korea and China, particularly since China outsources contracts to N.Korea that has even cheaper labor than China, plus factoring distance so as to deny at moments like this having anything to do with that crazy N.Korean Kim.

We knew all along that N.Korea invested EVERYTHING into weaponry and their military. The image of 35 tons hits every reader square between the eyes realizing that these shipments are en route to Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, Iran, Palestine, Somalia, Kenya or another neighborhood near you. Thank God this particular cache hit a snag and got uncovered. And hope that N.Korean resources are utterly exhausted with no income for all their warmongering effort.

maverick muse on December 14, 2009 at 3:25 PM

The Cairo and Asia speeches obviously weren’t taken to heart; better plan a new round of Ogabe visits.

Bishop on December 14, 2009 at 3:26 PM

B+

Firebird on December 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Right. It’s only an A if you get it there.

Of course, it would be really bad if this actually WAS a B+, and there’s a lot more going on elsewhither. I’d rather not think about that.

Bob's Kid on December 14, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Obviously something needs to be done and, yes, Obama has the answer. Instead of relying on the racist, war-mongering America of the Bush Administration, we are now under the umbrella of the “good hands people” at the United Nations who have a track record of success (at selling us down the river and profiting on the side.)

MaiDee on December 14, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Where is all the peace and hope now that the messiah is in charge?
Goodness, I hope the Thais are interrogating.

ORconservative on December 14, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Will Eric Holder investigate how that tip to the Thai government was leaked? You know we shouldn’t be meddling in other countries’ affairs./

d1carter on December 14, 2009 at 3:32 PM

So the Chinese harvest organs and the Norks do arms.

WashJeff on December 14, 2009 at 2:58 PM

Heh.

hawksruleva on December 14, 2009 at 3:34 PM

But, the North Koreans are secular communists and Hezballah are religous fanatics. If the MSM’s non-existant coverage of Iraq’s terror ties have taught me anything, its that secular regimes don’t cooperate with religous extremists.

BohicaTwentyTwo on December 14, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Will Eric Holder investigate how that tip to the Thai government was leaked? You know we shouldn’t be meddling in other countries’ affairs./

d1carter on December 14, 2009 at 3:32 PM

The CONTENT of the plan is not an issue. It’s just an innocent mistake. The outrage here is that someone revealed North Korea’s information! Was there hacking involved?

hawksruleva on December 14, 2009 at 3:35 PM

err- plane, not plan.

hawksruleva on December 14, 2009 at 3:36 PM

The Obama administration will likely punish the U.S. personnel who provided the information tip to the Thai government. Remember…our enemy is Obama’s and Chris Matthew’s ally.

jediwebdude on December 14, 2009 at 3:36 PM

But, the North Koreans are secular communists and Hezballah are religous fanatics. If the MSM’s non-existant coverage of Iraq’s terror ties have taught me anything, its that secular regimes don’t cooperate with religous extremists.

BohicaTwentyTwo on December 14, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Right. Come to think of it, who could work with North Korea? Not China, or even the Somalis – they’re capitalists. Al Qaeda is too religious. We’re looking for a grouip that is statist-oriented, non-religious, and willing to use force to advance it’s agenda.

SEIU, maybe?

hawksruleva on December 14, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Also to think about: Yemen.

Chap on December 14, 2009 at 3:39 PM

BohicaTwentyTwo on December 14, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Yeah… from past patterns I don’t buy Hez being the customer… too much eveidence of direct Iranian weapon supply through Syria.

Now… Somalia suddenly springs to my mind. They have hard currency from the “Pirates” ransoms… and a need for this type of small arms.

Romeo13 on December 14, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the obama admin give a billion dollars to hamas (or was it hezbollah, can’t keep my terrorist orgs straight) under the lame guise of helping them rebuild from Isreali attacks? Those $$$ will buy some nice weaponry. I think the label we should hang around obama’s neck is that he is the “president of aid and comfort–to the enemy.”

tigerlily on December 14, 2009 at 3:41 PM

It’s like an axis…
Like an Axis of Evil…
Lets see… Who said that?

Haiku Guy on December 14, 2009 at 3:48 PM

I wonder what kind of interrogation techniques will be used on the crew and if it will be the Thais or US interrogators. Either way I hope they spill their guts and we find the who, what, where and when these arms were intended for.

fourdeucer on December 14, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Is it too much to hope for that a pitcher of water be used during the interrogation?

Actually, the One should fly them to Gitmo. I’ll bet just seeing the name on the gate will get them talking.

Kafir on December 14, 2009 at 3:50 PM

So the Chinese harvest organs and the Norks do arms.

WashJeff on December 14, 2009 at 2:58 PM

And American doctors do tonsils and feet, of course…

Haiku Guy on December 14, 2009 at 3:50 PM

tigerlily on December 14, 2009 at 3:41 PM

If memory serves we also gave Hamas … er the Palestinians… M-16s and about 1 million rounds of ammo…

For their Police of course… you know… stability and all that…

Romeo13 on December 14, 2009 at 3:52 PM

B+

Firebird on December 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Sweet!

phineas on December 14, 2009 at 3:52 PM

Thailand huh? Won’t be the first time they found a missile where there wasn’t supposed to be one. Badump…bump…shhh. I’ll be here all night.

LevStrauss on December 14, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Kafir on December 14, 2009 at 3:50 PM

According to the Jerusalem Post the Thai government is holding the suspects for 12 days while interrogations continue. I hope the Thais are more aggressive than we would be.

Members of the five-man crew – four from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus – were charged Sunday with illegal arms possession and refused bail. Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Monday approved a request from authorities to extend their detention by 12 days for further investigation, said police spokesman Pongsapat Pongjaren.

From the Jpost.

fourdeucer on December 14, 2009 at 3:58 PM

These arms IMO were heading to the Af-Pak border region, to be used after July 2011.

macncheez on December 14, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Hey.. I know this was North Korea… but is anyone but me concerned that no major news agencies are covering the lapse of the START II treaty? I ain’t too big a supporter of any treaties with the Russians, however, I find it interesting that this one has lapsed, the Russians continue to work on NEW nuke missiles and Obama is blathering about getting rid of ours.

I wonder how this lack of coverage is to keep the American people thinking the Russians are still under treaty to us for various nuke issues so Obama can dismantle our arsenal? Paranoid, you ask? Hell, yes. When it comes to this president, I am about as distrusting as one can get. And I get REAL nervous when the press completely ignores an issue like START II since the same scumbags were alllllllllll about talking to the Russians for decades, insisting we needed nuke treaties up the wazoo.

Why the silence now?

Mad Mad Monica on December 14, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Obama will extend his hand and take Kim’s fisting

Daveyardbird on December 14, 2009 at 5:03 PM

Maybe Obama just needs to have a beer summit with Kim Jong-il and just sort this all out.

Conservative Samizdat on December 14, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Why Hamas and Hezbollah? Where would the plane drop off the goodies? More likely it is Myanmar, Libya, or Sudan.

lexhamfox on December 14, 2009 at 5:36 PM

If you think for one second that ANY hostile country is going to pay any attention to the UN or O Bomber’s “sternly worded warnings”, you’ve got another thought coming right quick!

Saddam Hussein proved that ignoring the UN and US was not only good politics, it paid handsome dividends in “oil for food” billions in HIS coffers, along with billions more in under the table dealings with other Middle Eastern outlaws, outside of the UN resolutions.

So why should Iran or Nork pay any heed? There’s a toothless UN and a chiken chit president in the White House. What more could they ask for????

GoldenEagle4444 on December 14, 2009 at 6:47 PM

Is it just me or does the blonde look like MKH?

@ntif@n on December 14, 2009 at 7:00 PM

Obama is going to drop one badass STRONGLY WORDED LETTER on North Korea.

Mojave Mark on December 14, 2009 at 7:01 PM

Fair warning: don’t make Obama declare you a “distraction”!

drunyan8315 on December 14, 2009 at 9:21 PM

I wonder if they included the latest batch of supernotes with the deal? NoKo loves to spread those things around…

ajacksonian on December 14, 2009 at 9:36 PM

It’ll be his lowest bow yet….

KZnextzone on December 15, 2009 at 12:06 AM