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Finland grants permission for transit of missiles to South Korea

Captain and navigation officer held on suspicion of explosives transport violations

Finland grants permission for transit of missiles to South Korea
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The Finnish government on Wednesday granted an export licence for the 69 Patriot missiles found on board the Thor Liberty in Kotka in December.
      The ship will be allowed to continue its voyage to South Korea, where the ground-to-air missiles were destined. The vessel was stopped in Kotka because it lacked the proper export licences.
On Wednesday morning it was reported that police and customs authorities had cancelled the confiscation order concerning the missiles.
      “”The confiscation was ordered for investigative reasons and there is no need to continue it”, said Detective Superintendent Timo Virtanen of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
      At its meeting early Wednesday afternoon the Finnish government granted an export licence to the South Korean Defence Acquisition Program Administration, which is valid through the end of August this year.
The explosives found in the hold of the ship will also be allowed to move on to their final destination.
      The Ministry for Foreign Affairs determined on Wednesday that the explosives do not require permission for export.
      The Foreign Ministry now sees the explosives that were found on board as being of dual use. Issues of export licences were seen as moot because the explosives were not seen as defence materiel.
However, a criminal investigation continues into suspected safety violations in how the explosives were loaded. The captain and navigating officer of the Thor Liberty are suspected of violating navigation legislation.
      The explosives in the hold were on open wood pallets, and not steel containers as safety standards require.
      The two have been ordered to stay in Finland pending completion of the investigation.

More on this subject:
 Finland has denied permits for defence equipment transit twice since 2000

Previously in HS International Edition:
  Missiles and explosives found in ship in Kotka (22.12.2011)

Helsingin Sanomat

  5.1.2012 - TODAY
 Finland grants permission for transit of missiles to South Korea

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