After Two Years Of Pleading, US Finally Gets Its Hellfire Missile Back From Cuba

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Cuba has finally returned a Hellfire missile to the United States after two years of pleading from Washington, D.C.

The inert AGM 114 Hellfire missile arrived in Florida Saturday, where it will be taken to a warehouse with other Hellfire missiles, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“We can say without speaking to specifics that the inert training missile has been returned with the cooperation of the Cuban government,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. “The re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the reopening of our embassy in Havana allow us to engage with the Cuban government on issues of mutual interest.”

Due to federal laws surrounding defense trade licensing, Toner was not able to shed any further light on how the mishap occurred.

“Cuba acted with seriousness and transparency and co-operated to find a satisfactory solution to this issue,” the Cuban Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The incident first took place in 2014, when the missile wound up on a plane to Cuba, a diversion from its original intended destination in Germany. It’s still unclear how the missile was rerouted, but it has functioned a source of major embarrassment for the U.S., which has been compounded by the refusal of Cuba to return the missile, at least until now. Experts remain baffled that the regulatory system designed to prevent such a rerouting apparently failed.

What supposedly happened is that while in Europe after being used for a training exercise in Spain, the cargo ended up on an Air France flight to Cuba, instead of on a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, where it would then be transferred to a flight to Florida.

Fortunately, the missile did not have a warhead attached. It also did not have a guidance system installed, though the missile alone has plenty of sensitive technology onboard. U.S. officials were concerned that Cuba might share the technology with North Korea or Russia.

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