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back to article US mistakenly sent nuke-ICBM parts to Taiwan in 2006

US officials admitted today that "nose cone assemblies" for nuclear missiles had been mistakenly sent to Taiwan in 2006, but sought to calm fears by saying that they had now "regained control" of the bits. AP quoted US Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne as saying "we're very concerned". It appears that Taiwan had actually …

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Bronze badge

Security

Perhaps instead of torturing innocent people and invading other countries thy might like to concentrate on not sending parts for nuclear weapons outside of their country (like this) not sending all their confidential information by e-mail across the internet, not sending the same e-mail to the wrong server in the UK (or anywhere else for that matter) and not 'accidentally' dropping nuclear bombs on countries as they did to Spain in 1966.

It's a bit like Star Trek, if I were in charge the first two things I'd do would be to turn off the holo-deck and turn off Data.

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Look on the bright side...

...they didn't send them to Tehran.

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oxo

@ Matt

"It's a bit like Star Trek, if I were in charge the first two things I'd do would be to turn off the holo-deck and turn off Data."

Er, right.

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Black Helicopters

Might be old but

Thats one of those parts that a would be nuclear power would like to have not the cone but the fuse it was a bitch for Pakistan to come up with one IIRC. I doubt little Taiwan wants or needs nukes to make their situation more dangerous however they will be on sale next week at an electronics wholesaler near you.

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Bronze badge

Putting two reg stories together...

... we now get that America is cracking down on chinese weapons tech spies and sending weapons tech to countries looking for closer ties with China.

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Silver badge

More of the same then

So American military send confidential, top-secret, highly-sensitive data to the first mail address that happens to vaguely sound like a legit one, and now we find that they also send classified nuclear hardware to non-approved destinations.

Sheesh, Patton would have a stroke over all these shenanigans, but before he'd personally hang the idiots responsible.

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Joke

Regained control?

How's that supposed to calm my fears? I'd be calmer if I heard they'd had them confiscated by a competent neutral party.

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Pirate

Human Factor

How ever many technical safeguards you put on all these things you still can't beat the human factor.

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Anonymous Coward

@Matt Perhaps the UK...

... should stop harboring radical preachers, and the rest of the EU should stop being so blatantly racist?

And what about those protectionist policies that pretty much keep Africa mired in poverty? And where were you during the Balkan conflict? Somalia? And now Darfur? What about Rwanda?

And maybe the UK should pay reparations for all the damage that was done during colonialization? You know, it's your fault the Middle East is such a huge mess.

On the one hand, the US gets blamed for interventionism, on the other everyone expects it to be the world policeman. It's pretty much a no-win situation, however you look at it. Not that I think that the Iraq mess was a good idea in the first place, but, there are many evils perpetrated by Western countries against the rest of the world, military intervention is just one of them.

Back on topic. It would be very easy to make this mistake. All it takes is a mis-labeled box. Besides, this technology is not really all that sensitive. You're talking about a 50 years old piece of electronics that controls detonation sequence, something a teenager could program in an off-the-shelf microcontroller in a few hours.

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Happy

Wrong part number

It's pretty obvious someone got a part code wrong. Given these are generally a centrally issued thing the codes bear little if any obvious relationship to the parts they link to, so there's no easy way of spotting errors.

With a digit or two of error in the part code and you could end up with almost anything.

Even worse is if you attempt to find something by description, as this can go horribly wrong.

Given that I've known people to accidentally order some very big, expensive - and specially manufactured - items, getting some fuses for an obsolete missile system is relatively tame.

I assume some sort of warning would have been issued if something sensitive had been ordered - guidance system parts or bits of the actual weapon assembly - but this just sound like a minor cockup.

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Joke

@David Wiernicki

"Look on the bright side they didn't send them to Tehran."

Maybe they intended to but the Comander in Chief didn't pronounce it

correctly!

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Coat

It might be old...

but what does that say about the potential condition of the batteries they actually really wanted?

Don't get me wrong, I'm an American and not only am I not shocked by the stupidity of the logistics arm of our military, and government, in general, but damn, either someone needs to pay better attention to what's on the requisition form or if there's a question or uncertainty, CALL.

For example, the cost for a quartermaster/supply clerk calling Taiwan to verify an order, maybe .03 a minute. The cost of shipping the business end of a vintage ICBM from where-ever in the US to Taiwan, I'm going to toss out a number of several million dollars as even though some US shipping firms are cleared to process classified and secret packages, I rather doubt the likes of DHL, UPS or even FedEx would have the facilities to handle such a loaded (pun most definitely intended) parcel. Besides, given the conditions of some of the packages I've received, even originating from such exotic locations as Detroit or Fort Wayne, I'd be hard pressed to trust them with anything less fragile than a solid block of lexan.

But, I digress. I do recall reading about a supply clerk receiving an requisition for a light bulb, but the part number was one digit off, and rather than question the part number, he shipped the individual a 15 ton anchor.

And if the story was true, the individual who actually ordered it was in the Army and NOT the Navy, Marines or Coast Guard. And last I checked, the zodiac's that the special ops guys use have gotten a lot bigger, I personally can't think of why anybody in the Army might have a significant or even remotely plausible need for a 30,0000 lb anchor.

Now, in the defense of the individual who processed this little gem... Once you get out of the brig, it might not hurt to CALL the ordering party. If you have a valid part number, but can't decipher the description, even though BAttery - Helicopter and BAllistic nose cone - Missile both begin with BA, CALL. If the part numbers look mildly askew and good sense just screams that a foreign country we're not on very intimate terms with really doesn't absolutely need a global thermonuclear WMD, CALL... For the love of GOD just CALL.

Mine's the one with NBC protective gear.

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Unhappy

@Anonymous

> Perhaps the UK should should stop harboring radical preachers

Would those be the ones that have been jailed for inciting violence?

Of course, you could try not giving them the excuse to be radical in the first place. I mean which cause would you rather sign up for as a freedom fighter: a) muslims in Bradford being given second rate housing (just like you do to your blacks) or b) fight the Yankee infidel?

> And what about those protectionist policies that pretty much keep Africa mired in poverty?

True indeed - the EU perpetrate this in our name but for some reason eurocrats seem to be unelected and unaccountable. Perhaps I should start an insurgency?

Alternatively, perhaps you'd rather the EU followed the US' shining example when it comes to fair trade agreements? Fancy a banana?

> And maybe the UK should pay reparations for all the damage that was done during colonialization? You know, it's your fault the Middle East is such a huge mess

Au contraire, it's all your fault for joining in and winning WWII. If you hadn't, the Nazis would have have won and there would have been no Israel and no Middle East problem.

> On the one hand, the US gets blamed for interventionism, on the other everyone expects it to be the world policeman. It's pretty much a no-win situation

US intervention guidelines have two checkboxes: 'communists' and 'oil'. If either apply then you invade, otherwise you don't. (Underneath in big letters it says "But not China, stupid!")

How are your shares in Haliburton doing?

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Black Helicopters

But what *type* of helicopters...?

> It appears that Taiwan had actually ordered a number of batteries for use in "US-supplied helicopters"

See icon for details!

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Flame

Who's Picking/Packing those orders??

Hate to find out what they would have been sent of they ordered Light Bulbs! Nuke grade plutonium?!?!

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@ Anonymous

"On the one hand, the US gets blamed for interventionism, on the other everyone expects it to be the world policeman. It's pretty much a no-win situation"

I have one word for you - LIBERIA...

But then again they didnt have any oil, did they?

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Pirate

"we're very concerned"

I wonder why? Why should anyone consider this more serious than a simple logistics screw-up? I hear any "secrets" that there might possibly be exposed have already been sold to Pakistan, Israel and Turkey by "high-ranking executives" to round off the month's ends / get their compromising photos back since at least 2001.

Shrug.

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"everyone expects [America] to be the world policeman"

Not me. America just *thinks* everyone wants that. Or maybe just says it thinks we want that so it can justify doing what it wants.

Nothing against Americans, by the way, I just don't like bold statements about what 'everyone' wants, or the behaviour that results from effectively endless power and resources and a profit-driven approach to the rest of the world.

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Joke

It says *three* on the shipping manifest

Three?

No. We've definitely only got two here!

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Go

Alternative shock 'n' awe tester?

Mailing missiles at a country. Well OK, obviously just missile parts in this isolated case, but using a target country's mail service seems sound for the future:

-- saves on fuel costs (especially in these uncertain times),

-- better payload accuracy achieved via personal home/office person-to-person delivery services,

-- arguably lower chances of collateral damage (assuming correct target signs the receipt)...

Fairly reasonable (and go-green) to me.

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Boffin

Team America - F**k Yeh!!!

I don't expect the US to be the world's police force - actually, I have it pictured EXACTLY the other way around. However... - given the generally elivated level of supreme incompetence displayed on both sides of the Atlantic sewer by various publicly funded departments, might this be a prudent time to suggest that we halt all trading, warmongering and "diplomacy"? I only ask because it seems to me that we are wasting valuable resources shipping plastic round the globe to be recycled instead of developing our own recycling plants, flying millions of unecessary (wo)man-miles rather than using the telephone, and selling equipment that can only be used in an offensive way to countries we admit we don't trust whilst symultaneously complaining that these same countries are being a tad cruel to their citizens.

WE, that's US and UK... appear to be at war with the environment, not realising that, whilst nature will always find a way to continue, (wo)mankind may not be so fortunate.

Here endeth the Lesson.

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"Balkans"

Also, not to be funny, but not only were we right there in the Balkans, we still have a prescence now as part of the peacekeeping force. The only difference is we were a bit quieter and avoided the limelight a little because, for some bizarre reason, we chose not to blow up chinese embassies and get our stealth aircraft shot down. I missed oppertunity if you ask me, at least you'd have heard of us if we did then the world could love us as much as it loves America!

Also, as you'd notice if you read something other than the Daily Republican, you'd already know that it was a joint anglo-french (theres something that doesn't happen often!) inititative that was largely responsible for the UN Security Councils decision to send 26000 troops to Sudan. I can't stand Gordon Brown any more than I can stand Dubya, but none-the-less, credit where its due.

Also, not to be picky, we never really colonised (not the spelling) much of the middle east, we were more africa and asia, but hey, splitting hairs now.

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Alien

"a bit like StarTrek" eh?

Once I am in charge...

The first thing I'm going to do is is a 180 degree maximum warp high-velocity loop round the sun, catapult myself and my enordinately attractive and buxom crew (tell me more of this earth thing called kissing) back to tomorrow (just so I don't create any unfortunate paradoxes), locate the Whitehouse, the Pentagon, everything inside the M25 (England, UK), every single tax office on the planet, the Vatican, Bognor Regis and Manhattan Island, vapourize everything inside and declare myself your UBERMEISTER.

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Paris Hilton

@Daniel Wilkie

If you care to peruse a map of our former empire - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:1919_British_Empire_Map.svg - you may not that we did, in fact, occupy a great deal of the Middle East. Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon...all once under British mandate. The modern countries that bear these names were in fact laregly our creation, with borders established to suit our interests or those of our allies. We have plenty of responsibility for what is happening today.

As far as the founding of the state of Israel goes, while Britain was in favour of the idea prior to WWII, we handed that problem over to the UN.

Perhaps we need a new envoy for peace...guess who?

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Anonymous Coward

@ Team Americam, World Police..

Ace!

No-one Expects! Infact we'd prefer if they didn't take it upon themselves and waited for an internationally agreed invitation.

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