Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 22, 2011

No Secret In Finnish Patriot Missile Discovery

Searching the web currently comes up with some 240 articles like this one.

Boat laden with surface-to-air missiles stopped in Finland on its way to China

Around 160 tonnes of explosives and 69 surface-to-air missiles have been found by Finnish officials on a cargo ship bearing a British flag and ultimately destined for China, authorities say. They said they did not know the origin of the Patriot missiles or who was supposed to receive them.

The Thor Liberty sailed from the north German port of Emden on 13 December and two days later docked in Kotka, southern Finland, to pick up a cargo of anchor chains, officials said. Its final destination was Shanghai, but it was not clear whether that was where the arms shipment was going, officials said.

That is quite some lazy journalism in that piece. Patriot missiles do not just come from nowhere and are covered by various agreements that do not allow them to bought and sold by everyone. Just a few minutes of searching the web would have told those Finish officals and the journalist what is happening here. It is indeed quite obvious where those Patriot missiles come from and where they are going.

From a BBC report:

Police did not confirm Finnish media reports that the ship had also been scheduled to stop in South Korea, Reuters news agency reports., December 20, 2011 Missile shipment confirmed aboard detained vessel

According to information received by YLE, the missile shipment originated in Germany and is destined for South Korea.

Searching for South Korea and Patriot missile shows that this ship's load is very likely part of a long arranged official government deal:

AFP, July 13, 2005: German defense chief in talks on sale of missiles to South Korea

A German defense chief met with South Korean officials here Wednesday for talks on the sale of second-hand Patriot missiles to Seoul, the defense ministry said.

UPI, March 13, 2007: South Korea Wants To Buy Second-Hand Patriot Missiles From Germany

DW: November 28, 2008: South Korea Takes Delivery for Patriot Missiles from Germany

The South Korean Air Force received the first shipment of Patriot missiles from Germany on Friday, Nov. 28, the air force in Seoul said.

The 48 anti-missile and anti-aircraft missiles, which will replace the country's outdated Nike air defense missiles, are to be deployed by 2012 after two years of trial operation.

DID, December 1, 2008: Raytheon Begins SAM-X/Patriot Missile Work in South Korea

In March of 2008, Raytheon announced an initial contract (amount undisclosed) for preliminary planning efforts aimed at integrating Patriot air defense/ABM missiles into South Korea’s national command and control structure.
An effort was made in 2007 to buy second-hand Patriot PAC-2 systems from Germany... and delivery of those missiles has now begun.

Chosun, September 19, 2011: Patriot Missiles Useless as Radar Out of Order

The Patriot missiles, a surface-to-air missile capable of intercepting enemy aircraft or missiles in midair, were deployed under the Air Force's "SAM-X" next-generation air-defense missile project and are the South Korean military's key air-defense weapons.
Of 32,149 Patriot system parts it intended to acquire from Germany, the military had procured only 10 percent or 3,142 parts by July. It also lacks a proper maintenance float program in place.

"We plan to put the radars into full operation by early next year," an Air Force spokesman said. "But problems can occur because they are now in limited operation. We're going to import parts to replace the ones that caused the breakdowns by year's end."

According to Thorco Shipping the current Thor Liberty voyage is expected (pdf) to end in Qingdao, China on February 19. That certainly leaves enough time for a discharge stopover 200 miles east of Quingdao in South Korea.

It seems obvious to me that the Patriot missiles on board of the Thor Liberty are second hand, coming from Germany and are destined for South Korea in an official deal that involves the original manufacturer Raytheon.

If I can find that within a few minutes why are news agencies and journalists coming up with scare headlines like Finland seizes Patriot missiles headed for China and articles that fail to point out the obvious?

Posted by b on December 22, 2011 at 8:03 UTC | Permalink

… why are news agencies and journalists coming up with scare headlines …
Possibly this is only an impression, but there seem to be a (new ?) campaign to paint China in a negative light, esp regarding military matters (like in this case, hinting illegal arms purchases). The other day, there was that satellite image of the Chinese aircraft carrier – the Jpn media used mildly scary headlines as well.

And because scary headlines sell, and distract off what is really happening in the ‘West’.

Posted by: Philippe | Dec 22 2011 8:44 utc | 1

Thanks, b, for finding the truth behind the lies. Like Philippe says, scary headlines sell--maybe not so much to those who actually expose themselves to the propaganda, but to the advertisers and TPTB. The military industrial complex loves having these scary headlines. Not only does it sell weapons, but the weapons are unlikely to ever be used. As I recall, the Patriot missiles do not have a very good track record.

It reminds me of Eisenhower's famous 'Cross of Iron' speech:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

(...) Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

Posted by: no6ody | Dec 22 2011 11:45 utc | 2

Yeah,the right wingers in SK want to provoke the NKs,but as these missiles aren't very effective,it's probably a tempest in a teapot,and obviously something unconnected to the recent death of Kim.Probably some payback from Nato for S Korean sabre rattling.
Now if they could get those Iron Dome 20%? success rate missiles,their insecurity will be diminished 20%?.
The MIC is chortling.

Posted by: dahoit | Dec 22 2011 12:57 utc | 3

The piece in question probably contained precisely the right amount of information, b. I think you just ended up doing some poor guy in Pyongyang's job for him, though.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 22 2011 14:19 utc | 4

I think you just ended up doing some poor guy in Pyongyang's job for him, though.

Those guys will read South Korean papers and certainly know very well of the South-Korean German deal. It has obviously been discussed for years and there is nothing secret about it.

Posted by: b | Dec 22 2011 16:07 utc | 5

I was just making a joke. It really is just extremely lazy journalism.

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 22 2011 23:36 utc | 6

Impounded missile shipment of German origin

German officials have confirmed that the 69 Patriot missiles impounded in Kotka Harbour were loaded in the northern German port of Emden. They were part of an official German government consignment en route to South Korea. The missiles were listed on the manifest as "rockets", which Kotka port officials misinterpreted as meaning "fireworks".

Posted by: b | Dec 23 2011 10:12 utc | 7

A very small note: the Thor Liberty flies the Danish flag and is registered in Svendborg.

Oddly, there was another news note here in the Happy Little Kingdom about two months ago about another Danish vessel held in Mombai by Indian authorities because of a claim they had weapons destined for "terrorists" - never figured that one out, but that was maybe payback because the Danish Supreme court nixed the request by India to extradite a Dane to India for an arms shipment 15-20 years ago to the Ananda Marg in those troubled east indian areas bordering Bangla Desh

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Dec 23 2011 12:52 utc | 8

gordon duff is on the case

Posted by: denk | Dec 25 2011 13:51 utc | 9

That story becomes hilarious: Ship held after missiles discovery cleared to travel again. Cleared to travel, but leaving the captain and the offending cargo behind. At least they admit now it was all legitimate.

Posted by: Philippe | Dec 27 2011 3:49 utc | 10

There's some secret. At a time when we can't fly without being anally probed the lackadaisical shipping methods being used here are decidedly odd. No security for a huge shipment of explosives and sophisticated missiles? Just meandering around the world, stopping to pick up chains. Wonder if they planned to take the scenic route past beautiful downtown Somalia? This just doesn't seem to be a sensible way to handle this type of military shipment.

Posted by: John | Dec 27 2011 19:54 utc | 11

Merchant vessels don't do "stopovers" like that, on the fly. For insurance and other reasons, this doesn't work like your proverbial suburbial errants -- you always leave port knowing where you are headed to. The MS Thor Liberty was bound for China, not South Korea, and I am very sorry if this small detail doesn't fit into your line of reasoning.

Posted by: Christian | Dec 30 2011 8:09 utc | 12

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