Finland Agrees to Return Missile Wreckage
HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ The wreckage of a wayward Soviet target missile will be placed on a train and sent back to the Soviet Union by the end of the week, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
President Mauno Koivisto and the Foreign Ministry acceded to a Soviet request to return the wreckage one day after Koivisto returned from a round- the-world vacation trip.
The president has the final say in Finland’s foreign policy and in its delicate relations with its Communist neighbor. The missile crashed into a frozen lake in Finnish Lapland, near the Soviet border, on Dec. 28.
Finland asked the Soviet Union for compensation for the ″direct costs″ of retrieving the missile fragments. Divers and helicopters worked under extreme weather conditions to salvage the parts. The ministry said it had not yet calculated the costs.
Finnish air force experts were still examining the the missile’s nose, engine, main body, tail and guidance system at a main depot in central Finland.
But Maj. Lars Olof Fredriksson said smooth handling of the incident was more important than continued scrutiny of the 15-year-old, unarmed aerial target.
An examination revealed that the missile came down intact, but disintegrated when it hit the 31-inch thick ice covering Lake Inari, he said. Most of it plunged 40 feet to the lake bottom.
The missile crossed the airspace of Norway and Finland on its wayward flight during Soviet naval exercises in the Barents Sea. Moscow made unprecedented apologies to both countries.