It was a mystery that Panama's president said his country was struggling to solve.
What was the massive military equipment hidden under hundreds of thousands of sacks of brown sugar on a North Korean boat? Where did it come from? And where was it going before investigators seized the vessel near the Panama Canal?
Hours after Panama said it would ask U.S. and British officials for help solving the puzzle, Cuba gave an answer Tuesday night.
In addition to 10,000 tons of sugar, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said, the shipment contained "240 metric tons of obsolete defensive weapons" sent to North Korea "to be repaired and returned to Cuba."
The equipment was manufactured in the mid-20th century and included two anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles in parts and spares, two MiG-21 jets and 15 motors for this type of airplane, the foreign ministry said.
"The agreements subscribed by Cuba in this field are supported by the need to maintain our defensive capacity in order to preserve national sovereignty," the statement said. "The Republic of Cuba reiterates its firm and unwavering commitment with peace, disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, and respect for international law."
Because it is pursuing nuclear weapons, North Korea is banned by the United Nations from importing and exporting most weapons.
The Cuban government's revelation, read on state television, is the latest chapter in an international drama that has all the elements of a thriller: a violent confrontation on a detained ship, missiles hidden onboard, a heart attack and an attempted suicide.
Panamanian authorities spotted the shipment during an anti-drug inspection late Monday.
Few details of the confrontation were available, but the ship's North Korean crew of 35 resisted inspection and arrest for days, said Panama's security minister, Jose Raul Mulino. He described it as "violent," saying that the crew tried to sabotage the ship by cutting cables on the cranes that would be used to unload cargo.
As it is, Mulino said, authorities now have to remove 255,000 sacks of brown sugar by hand.
During the struggle with Panamanian authorities, the ship's captain suffered an apparent heart attack and then tried to kill himself, according to President Ricardo Martinelli.
The crew also refused to raise the ship's anchor, Mulino said, forcing Panamanian authorities to cut the anchor loose to move the ship.
Panama's public ministry ordered the crew's detention, and authorities have since spoken with crew members about their travel plans. Crew members said they had left Cuba and headed toward Panama, aiming to arrive in North Korea in 51 days.
As authorities inspected the vessel, the situation was intriguing enough that Martinelli himself traveled to the ship to take a look -- with reporters in tow.
Is it a missile? a reporter asked.
"Maybe," Martinelli said. "I am not familiar with that, but it would be good if such things didn't pass through Panama, which is a country that loves peace and not war."
The president tweeted a photo of what he saw: a green octagon-shaped tube with a cone at its end and a similar-looking piece of equipment behind it.
Late Tuesday night, Mulino said the Cuban government's detailed announcement describing the military equipment had caught Panamanian officials by surprise.
Investigators have only combed through one of the ship's five compartments, he said. They are asking the United States and the United Kingdom to send teams to help them identify the weapons, and will invite a special commission from the United Nations to determine whether the shipment violates the organization's North Korea weapons ban.
Even with many unanswered questions, Mulino said, the Cuban government's statement explains one thing.
"Now we clearly understand the suicidal attitude of the captain," he said, "and the rebellion and the rioting of the crew."
U.N. official: 'We are following it closely'
Earlier Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the U.N. secretary-general said Panama had not officially reported the incident to the United Nations. If that happens, a U.N. panel of experts would review the incident.
"If it is confirmed that the vessel was carrying arms or related materiel and that the shipment was part of a purchase or sale to or from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, then there would indeed be a breach of the U.N. sanctions regime relating to that country," spokeswoman Morana Song said.