SEOUL - South Korea on Wednesday welcomed the seizure off Panama of a North Korean ship suspected of carrying weapons and urged the United Nations to take up the case.
"The government appreciates the Panamanian government's stoppage of a North Korea vessel carrying a suspicious cargo," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"If the shipment turns out to be in breach of UN resolutions, we expect the UN Security Council's sanctions committee to take relevant steps expeditiously."
The ministry, however, declined to confirm a report by Yonhap news agency that Panama informed Seoul that military equipment on the ship appeared to be missile parts banned under UN resolutions.
Panama said Tuesday it had found military equipment believed to be missiles concealed in a cargo of sugar, after impounding the ship and conducting a search for drugs.
It has urged UN inspectors to scrutinise the cargo, which could constitute a violation of the strict arms sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes.
Cuba said the weapons found on the ship were "obsolete" Soviet-era arms that it had sent to North Korea for repair.
It said the 240 tonnes of "obsolete defensive weapons" included two anti-aircraft missile systems.
There were also "nine missiles in parts and spares", various MiG-21 aircraft parts and 15 plane motors, "all of it manufactured in the mid-20th century" and "to be repaired and returned to Cuba".