Finnish authorities have confirmed the seizure of 69 Patriot missiles manufactured by Raytheon Corporation today. During a routine search of the MS Thor Liberty, a ship flagged by the Isle of Man, at the Finnish port of Kotka, authorities found 69 Patriot missiles capable of a type capable of intercepting ICBMs, the most modern available and America’s most sensitive military technology.
The next stop for this cargo, valued at over $4 billion even without the associated radar, which may well have been shipped via some other method, was Shanghai, China.
The US and Israel had scheduled an air defense exercise this week but no Patriot missiles were to be shipped to Israel as part of their mission, DOD sources indicate. This week’s exercise was to use Patriot missiles deployed from American ships in the eastern Mediterranean to test Israeli missile defenses. Reports indicate that all missiles for this exercise have been accounted for.
These units, the most advanced Patriot system had only been supplied to nation, Israel. The 69 Patiot ICBM interceptors are believed to be a highly secret consignment demanded by Israel as protection from any retaliatory strike by Iran were war to break out in the region, Instead of deploying them, the missiles were apparently sold to China labeled as “fireworks” accoring to Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen.
Though the missiles themselves were worth only $4 billion, the technology transfer itself would be worth over $125 billion, and represent a signficant loss of defense capability for the United States. Sources termed it, “An absolute disaster, even if they only received the radar systems alone, much less the missiles. That this would go unreported though the story was broken in Europe 48 hours ago is astounding. Nobody in Washington has this although even the BBC report contains more than enough information to bring Washington to a halt.
DOD sources indicate that it would be unusual for these missiles to be moved without radar and launch facilities to have been moved in advance. It was also indicated that the Department of Defense denies shipping any such missies to Germany or anywhere else in Europe, labeled as “fireworks” or anything else.
The owner of the ship of record is Thorco Shipping. Their representative, Thomas Mikkelsen said he was unaware any such cargo was onboard his vessel.
Claims were made that the missiles were destined for South Korea but an examination of documentation indicated that there were no South Korean ports scheduled. Additionally, the liklihood that the US government would ship its most valuable and secret missile technology through Germany mislabeled as “fireworks” rather than on a C 17 under miltiary security supports the Finnish claim.
Finnish police say they opened all 69 units, are recording serial numbers and have been unable to find any documentation indicating the real ownership of the seized cargo.
Detective Superintendent Timo Virtanen of the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the case. He has stated:
“Actually, in our investigation at the moment, we have got the information that we found 69 Patriot missiles on the ship and around 160 tonnes of explosives.”
The explosives are identified as nitroguandine, a low sensitivity explosive with a very high detonation speed. These explosives have several uses, among them launching shipboard or submarine launched missiles or in the development and testing of nuclear weapons design.
Finnish authorities indicate the explosives were packed in an “informal” and highly dangerous manner.
Finnish authorities indicate that the Thor Liberty’s captain and chief officer are under arrest on suspicion of arms trafficking. Both are citizens of the Ukraine.
The government of China has denied all knowledge of the incident although the cargo was destined for their ports.
The head of Finnish Customs CID, Petri Louatmaa said this was not the first such incident but by far the most serious he has ever heard of.
Finland has requested “information” from several countries.
The US Department of Defense has assured all involved that these missiles were not being sent to South Korea and that their presence on a civilian ship either being loaded in Germany or in port in Finland was in now way a part of any exercise nor any accepted methodology for the handling of this type of ultra-high technology weaponry.
Israeli officials have failed to respond to questions about the consignment.
Air Force transport command personnel indicate that high tech transfers to Israel are routinely offloaded at Schipol Airport in the Netherlands where Israel maintains secure facilities.