Missile triggers US and UK customs tiff

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The Independent Online
A MISSILE exported from Britain to the US has been impounded after American authorities found that it was not demilitarised, triggering some uncomfortable moments for the recipient and a tiff between US and British customs authorities.

A weapons fan from California decided that the missile and its mobile Transport-Erector-Launcher would make an ideal addition to his collection, and ordered one from a small firm near London. The Czech SS1-C was sent by freighter to California, but when it was examined by officials they claim that it was not, as the documentation claimed, properly demilitarised.

The missile was the second ordered by the collector. However, the Americans claimed that while the first was properly dismantled, the second was not. The guidance system was intact, and so was the engine, said a spokesman for the US Customs Service. All that was missing was a warhead.

But British Customs insisted that the missile was deactivated and that nothing illegal had taken place. "It was a dud," said a spokesman.