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Impounded missiles will be brought here: ministry

Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Friday that there will not be any problem in safely transporting to South Korea the 69 secondhand surface-to-air missiles impounded earlier this week by Finnish authorities.

Finnish police seized the Patriot missiles and 160 tons of explosives on a British-registered cargo ship at a port in Kotka in southern Finland. The ship, which departed from Emden port in northern Germany on Dec. 13, was to make a stop in South Korea and travel to its final destination of Shanghai, .

South Korea has purchased secondhand Patriot missiles from Germany since 2006.

“This case took place because different countries have different shipping standards,” ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok said in a press briefing.

“The Finnish rule requires explosives to be transported inside a container while under the German regulation, explosives can be transported after wrapping them on a plastic palette. They will be transported to South Korea as normal.”

Finnish police said the missiles didn’t have the right transit documents and the explosive picric acid wasn’t properly stored on the M/S Thor Liberty, which docked in Kotka on Dec. 15, according to the Associated Press.

A spokesman for Germany’s Defense Ministry said the missiles were an official shipment that was fully declared and had all necessary clearances from German authorities.

“Those patriot guided missiles are from the Bundeswehr’s stocks and have been shipped to South Korea” according to an intergovernmental treaty, he said, declining to be named in line with government policy.

He said no explosives were part of the shipment and he didn’t have any information on that part of the impounded cargo.

By Song Sang-ho and news reports
(sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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