The Czech military has scrapped plans to sell obsolete Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles, officials said Thursday, following criticism that the weapons could end up in the wrong hands.
Anti-aircraft missiles 9M32M Strela-2, known as SA-7 Grail, were removed from a package of weapons the military no longer needs and which were offered for sale in a public tender, Defense Ministry spokesman Andrej Cirtek said.
The reason for the move was that the missiles were on a list of weapons that are not allowed to be sold, Cirtek said. He said they will be destroyed. Cirtek also said the missiles were removed from the package several days ago.
The package posted on the ministry's Web site, however, still included the missiles on Thursday. "It was a mistake," Cirtek said. Anti-tank missiles and various ammunition were also in the package.
Human rights group Amnesty International expressed its concern over the sale Thursday, saying the missiles, also known as MANPADS, have been used by terrorist groups in Iraq and other countries.
It said a safer option would be to destroy the weapons.
Karel Dolejsi, an arms expert with the international human rights group's local branch, said the problem with the Russian missiles was that their life-span expires soon.
"The potential buyers would want to use them as soon as possible," he said. "It's useless to store them for several years," he said.
The military had signed a deal in December 2004 with Sweden's defense company Saab to deliver 16 mobile RBS-70 anti-aircraft systems to replace the Russian weapons, UPI reports.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea