Plane With Arms Detained In Thailand Was Bound For Ukraine

BANGKOK, Thailand -- A cargo plane full of North Korean weapons, detained in Thailand after an emergency landing at Bangkok airport, was bound for Ukraine, the Thai news agency TNA reported on Sunday.

An Il-76 cargo plane, the type detained in Thailand.

Thai authorities on Saturday seized about 40 tons of weapons from an Il-76 cargo plane which they said had come from North Korea after it landed for refueling at Bangkok's Don Muang airport, and arrested its five crew members.

Ukraine said later on Sunday that it is checking the reports on the plane. "The information on this score is being verified," a Foreign Ministry official said.

The aircraft's weapons arsenal included missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.

According to TNA, the plane's crew commander, a Belarusian national, said during a six-hour interrogation that the plane had flown from Ukraine and loaded weapons in North Korea.

The plane's commander said the aircraft refueled in Azerbaijan, then in the United Arab Emirates and after that in Thailand while en route to Pyongyang. On its way back, the plane was intended to refuel in Thailand and Sri Lanka, following which the cargo was expected to be delivered to Ukraine, TNA reported.

The plane's commander claimed that neither he, nor the other crewmembers who are Kazakh nationals knew about the military nature of the cargo.

Thai authorities accuse the crew of the plane, which is registered in Georgia, of illegal storage and transportation of weapons and misinformation, TNA reported. A United Nations resolution bans the transportation of certain weapons, including conventional arms, from or to North Korea.

The communist state is in the center of a long-running international dispute on its nuclear program.

The seizure came days after the U.S. presidential envoy's rare visit to North Korea designed to persuade Pyongyang to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. Both parties said after the trip they understood the need to resume the talks.

TNA said Thai authorities were preparing a report for the UN on the arrest of the plane.

Source: RIA Novosti