A US Hellfire missile has turned up in Cuba after going missing in a fiasco that has left US officials worried the technology might be shared with China, Russia or North Korea, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
Though the missile was not carrying a warhead, the alarming diversion while it was in transit from Europe has spurred US investigators to probe whether its arrival on the communist island was the result of criminal activity or merely a series of mistakes, the newspaper said.
And despite a historic thaw in ties with Cuba over the past year, Washington has been unsuccessful in its push to get the missile back, the Journal said, citing unnamed sources.
It reported that US officials were not concerned that Cuba would take apart the Hellfire — an air-to-ground missile often carried by helicopters — but were worried that Havana would share the technology with US rivals China and Russia, as well as North Korea.
The missile’s far-flung journey began in early 2014 when it was sent from Orlando International Airport by arms firm Lockheed Martin to Spain, where it was used in a NATO military exercise.
From Spain it began a journey that was supposed to see it arrive back in the US and was passed between several shipping firms on the first leg of its trip.
Officials loading a flight that was to carry the missile out of Madrid first noticed that it was missing, the Journal said.
They then determined that it had been put on a truck operated by Air France, which took it to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, where it was loaded onto one of the company’s flights to Cuba.
By the time the missile was tracked down, it was already en route to Havana where an official noticed the labeling on its crate and seized it.
Lockheed Martin notified the US Department of State of the incident when it realized the missile was missing in about June 2014, the Journal said.
The US Department of Justice is investigating the matter.
If the missile was purposefully diverted to Havana, the incident could be a violation of the Arms Export Control Act and even sanction laws against Cuba, the Journal said.
The bungled missile delivery comes with Washington and Havana working to build on their restoration of full diplomatic relations, a move first announced in December 2014.
The US and Cuba formally restored diplomatic relations in July and re-opened embassies in each other’s capitals.
US President Barack Obama said he had made the decision because he concluded that 50 years of trying to encourage democratic and economic change in Cuba through isolation had failed.
It also comes with the US pushing for greater pressure on North Korea over an alleged hydrogen bomb test this month, and with Washington at loggerheads with Moscow and Beijing over a litany of issues.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists