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So, Like, This is What Happened With the North Korean Ship Seized in Panama

Cuba Recently Got Busted for Trying to Send Weapons to North Korea

ByABC News
July 19, 2013, 1:35 PM

July 19, 2013— -- Cuba recently got busted for trying to send military equipment to North Korea, an illegal act under UN conventions. [See the above video for more info on how that happened.]

But besides trying to trade sugar for repaired weapons, what else are Cuba and North Korea up to?

It's hard to know. But the relationship between both countries is not really that intimate.

Aside from being two of the world's last remaining communist countries, who have been attacked by the U.S. in the past, Cuba and North Korea, don't have much in common. They rarely trade with each other, and there are few other known weapons deals between them.

Cuba has occasionally sent sugar to North Korea, as part of socialist solidarity programs. And in the '60s North Korean "volunteers" helped to cut sugar cane in Cuba. But Cuba has also been critical of North Korea's nuclear ambitions, with Fidel Castro himself writing earlier this year that North Korea has a "duty" to avoid nuclear war.

It's strange for Cuba to be entering into controversial deals with North Korea right now, as the island nation attempts to slowly improve relations with the United States and also explores business deals with North Korean arch-rival South Korea.

Another question this incident raises is whether North Korea is running a weapons-fixing business that would violate UN sanctions against that country.

As the AP explains:

"North Korea is barred by the U.N. from buying or selling arms, missiles or components, but for years U.N. and independent arms monitors have discovered North Korean weaponry headed to Iran, Syria and a host of nations in Africa and Asia…What's more, analysts say, it maintains a thriving sideline in repairing aging Warsaw Pact gear, often in exchange for badly needed commodities, such as Burmese rice."

The impoverished but highly militarized nation of North Korea is notorious for its food shortages. But maybe, they're like: "We'll fix missiles in exchange for food."