64 missile warheads stolen from Romanian train

July 18, 2011 - 8:29 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Authorities investigating the theft of 64 missile warheads from a train transporting military equipment to Bulgaria sought to reassure the public Monday that the components are no danger to the public.

Gendarmerie spokesman Florin Hulea told the AP that the warheads are not dangerous because they were merely components and not assembled in "a (missile) system."

He refused to offer any further information citing the ongoing investigation.

Warhead typically refers to the explosive material and detonator delivered by a torpedo, missile, or rocket. They can contain explosives, chemicals, gases, or even nuclear energy.

Prosecutors said they are investigating whether the components were stolen by scrap metal thieves and had interviewed 50 people.

Eugen Badalan, a lawmaker from the parliamentary defense committee, said the thieves "had no idea what they stole," adding that the components are not dangerous. Newspapers Evenimentul Zilei and Adevarul have reported that the warheads — contained in four boxes — did not contain explosives.

The train contained 27 carriages, of which eight were transporting military equipment, according to Mediafax news agency. It said just the one carriage containing the components was broken into.

Railway workers on Saturday noticed the seals on a carriage door were broken, and the door was not properly closed when the train reached Giurgiu, a Danube port that borders Bulgaria, the agency reported.

Sources told Mediafax the train was headed for SAGE Consultants Co company in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, with whom the Romanian company, Tohan Zarnesti, had a private contract.

The train was loaded on Friday and stopped under guard overnight in the central Romanian town of Brasov, about 166 km (103 miles) north of Bucharest. After leaving Saturday, it stopped for one hour in the mountain resort of Predeal.

National state company Romarm said that the Bulgarian company was responsible for train security.

Tohan Zarnesti produces artillery ammunition, ground to ground missiles and air to ground missiles and warheads for 122mm missiles.