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A Scud in California!

>From another one of the several lists I'm on, I figured someone
might know who the new pseudo-proud owner of a fully-operational
SS-1C Scud missle *WITH* moblie launcher is...


William Knowles
[email protected]

 Intelligence, N. 86, 5 October 1998, p. 12



 At "Intelligence", we're taking bets that you won't hear about
 the unidentified British firm which used an unnamed British
 freighter to import a fully-operational SS-1C Scud missile --
 complete with launcher, but missing its warhead -- into the
 United States.  According to a 25 September report in the
 "Washington Times", special investigators from HM Customs and
 Excise have been asked to determine how paperwork sent with the
 system came to be falsified, but they're probably going to run
 into ... the Pentagon because the Scud missile and its mobile
 transporter-erector launcher were seized on 2 September by the
 US Customs Service at Port Hueneme, California, about 56 km.
 north of Los Angeles and ... next door to the US Navy Point
 Mugu Pacific Missile Range, and ... the closest military port
 to the Vandenburg US Air Force Base where all classified US
 military launches take place.

 The Russian-designed, Czech-manufactured missile system was
 licensed for importation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
 Firearms (ATF), but ... it was wrongly described.  Although
 addressed to a wealthy -- but so far unnamed (and bets are he
 will never be named) -- US citizen, who is regarded as a bona
 fide weapons collector rather than an arms dealer, the missile
 system had not been made inoperable as required by import
 rules.  This is, of course, of interest to the Pentagon.  "This
 is a full-blown missile," stated John Hensley, a senior agent
 of US Customs Service in Los Angeles.  "The only thing missing
 is the warhead."  The launch chassis is a MAZ-543 truck,
 commonly used by former Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces.  "The
 guidance system was totally intact and the engine was ready to
 go," Mr. Hensley said.  "All you needed to do was strap on a
 garbage can full of C-4 high-explosive and you had a weapon."
 The guidance system and engine would, of course, be of intense
 interest to Pentagon intelligence, and the Israeli Mossad,
 particularly if the weapon is a later date or recent model.

 Hensley said the buyer, who lives in Palo Alto, had previously
 purchased a Scud missile that had been properly demilitarized.
 Under US law, such weapons may be imported, provided they are
 first cut up with a blowtorch so that they can never be
 reassembled.  But in this case, in an effort to fool customs
 officials, a photograph of the first -- cut up -- missile to be
 imported was attached to the illegal -- intact -- system, which
 was seized on 2 September.  If the "buyer" really wanted his
 missile, then the San Francisco Bay, which Palo Alto overlooks,
 is a much better port of entry.  Bets at "Intelligence" are
 also out on the "buyer" being associated with the military-
 funded Stanford Research Institute (SRI) or similar Pentagon-
 dependent firms in nearby Silicon Valley.

 COMMENT  --  The SS-1C Scud is a liquid-fueled missile which is
 among the most widely deployed weapons in the world.  It is in
 service in 16 nations.  Iraq's military forces were able to
 extend the range of the missile ("with baling wire and
 plywood", according to certain specialists), and used it
 extensively during the 1991 Gulf war.  International transfers
 of such missiles, which normally have a range of 300 km., are
 banned under the Missile Technology Control Regime.  Although
 the major media suggested the seizure would embarrass the
 Clinton administration, currently engaged in a major
 international diplomatic effort to halt exports of weapons of
 mass destruction and missile-delivery systems by Russia and
 China to the Middle East, it would seem more likely that the
 affair will "drag out indefinitely" in a California court,
 unless an appropriate "buyer" can be "sacrificed" publicly.


 Olivier Schmidt,
 Editor of "Intelligence"
 <[email protected]>