An inert U.S. Hellfire missile that was erroneously shipped from Europe to Cuba has been returned to its owners in the United States, the Cuban foreign ministry announced Saturday.
According to an official statement, a team of U.S. government and Lockheed Martin experts traveled to Cuba to view the warhead, before delivering it to the U.S: the result of extensive dialogue between the two countries.
The missile, which arrived in Cuba in 2014, did not contain any explosives and was originally used in U.S. military training exercises in Spain before it was shipped to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris via Germany.
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From Paris the missile was due to be sent to Florida. However, the weapon was instead put on an Air France flight to the Cuban capital, Havana, and has remained on the Caribbean island ever since.
Despite not being able to detonate, U.S. officials were reportedly concerned that Cuba could share the technology with the likes of North Korea and Russia.
Cuba, however, says it “acted with serenity and transparency and cooperated to find a satisfying solution to the situation.”
A U.S. official told the Journal that the mishap raises questions about the security of international commercial shipping and the difficulty of keeping close tabs on important items.
“Did someone take a bribe to send it somewhere else? Was it an intelligence operation, or just a series of mistakes? That’s what we’ve been trying to figure out,” the official said.
Cold war foes, the U.S. and Cuba restored diplomatic relations in July last year by opening embassies in their respective capitals, while in December the countries reached an agreement to resume direct flights.
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