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15 Jun, 2009 10:25

Smuggling secret weapons out of US as easy as ABC

An investigation carried out by a US state agency has shown that highly sophisticated military technology can easily be smuggled out of the country – with some even ending up being used against US troops fighting abroad.

The American government takes special measures to protect its sensitive technologies, but a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that it is much easier to smuggle weapons and military technology out of the country than anyone could have imagined.

As a way of testing military security the GAO carried out an experiment. Over the course of a year the agency set up a fake corporation in the US that was able to purchase American technologies legally – thanks to a legal loophole – and see if it could ship them to countries known as transit points for smuggling weapons.

As it turned out the system aimed at non-proliferation control doesn’t work quite well and illegal weapon export is booming. While all of this is happening, the US Department of Defense spends billions of dollars annually to produce technologically advanced weaponry that are supposed to keep Americans safe.

The dummy corporation managed to sell abroad triggers for nukes, components to build missiles and explosive devices, and current-issue US Army body armor. The GAO even got hold of special infra-red flags that American troops use to avoid friendly fire at night.

The effect of breaches of US military export controls can already be seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Cybercast News Service (CNSNews) quotes Jonathan Meyer, assistant director of GAO’s forensic audits and special investigations as saying: “It’s pretty common knowledge that American-made parts are finding their way into IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“We know it’s happening, we’ve talked to Department of Defense officials to confirm that,” he said.

According to Geopolitical Monitor, a web-based open source intelligence collection and forecasting service, “A recent spike in the frequency and overall effectiveness of IEDs in Afghanistan may also be linked to smuggled American technologies.”

The sad irony is that it means that American soldiers are risking their lives and dying from weapons that their own government developed, not to mention the strategic failure in general.

“The illegal diversion of US military technologies through deception, by domestic and foreign companies, poses a significant danger to America’s soldiers on the battlefield,” CNSNews quotes Sharon Woods, director of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service as saying.