Skip to content
October 25, 2010 / joninews

International arms dealings, the CIA and “suitcase atomic bombs”

Background to weapons and convert operations in Georgia

Since at least 1981, a worldwide network of independent  [i.e., no direct U.S. government ties] companies, including airlines, aviation and military spare parts suppliers, and trading companies, has been utilized by the CIA and the U.S. government to illegally ship arms and military spare parts to Iran and to the Contras. These companies were set up with the approval and knowledge of senior CIA officials and other senior U.S. government officials and staffed primarily by ex-CIA, ex-FBI and ex-military officers.

These CIA-controlled companies include Aero Systems, Inc., of Miami, Arrow Air, Aero Systems Pvt. Ltd of Singapore, Hierax of Hong Kong, Pan Aviation in Miami, Merex in Georgia, Sur International, St. Lucia Airways, Global International Airways, International Air Tours of Nigeria, Continental Shelf Explorations, Inc., Jupiter, Florida, Varicon, Inc., Dane Aviation Supply of Miami, Parvus, Safir, International Trading and Investment Guaranty Corp., Ltd.,  Air America, CAA, and Information Security International Inc.

During the Iran Contra affair, General Secord’s arms shipments, arraigned through the CIA, transferred weapons destined for Central America to Merex Corporation,  (Merex International Arms)  of Savannah, Ga. The Merex address  was occupied by Combat Military Ordinances Ltd., controlled by retired  military officer James P. Atwood.  Atwood, a retired  Lieutenant Colonel of U.S. Military Intelligence, [and later a CIA contract worker], stationed in their Berlin office, was  involved in major arms trades with CIA-sponsored international buyers, specifically Middle Eastern Arab states. Monzer Al-Kassar utilized the Merex firm for some of his weapons transactions with the CIA-controlled international weapons cartel.

Merex systems was founded by Otto Skorzeny’s associate Gerhard Mertins in Bonn after the war and was considered a CIA proprietary firm. Merex was close to and worked with the BND, the German intelligence service evolved from the CIA-controlled Gehlen organization. Atwood was involved with Interarmco, run by Samuel Cummings, an Englishman who ran the largest arms firm in the world. Cummings died in Monaco Carlo with a country place at Villars in the Swiss Alps. where he resettled in 1960 because he had looted his CIA employers and found European residence safer than Warrenton, Virginia.

 Interarms (formerly  Interarmco and officially the International Armaments Corporation) was the world’s largest private arms dealer, and once had enough weapons in their warehouses to equip forty U.S. divisions. The sole owner was Sam Cummings, who got his start working with the CIA to procure weapons for the 1954 coup in Guatemala

A most interesting individual was James P. Atwood (April 16, 1930- July 20, 1997).

A top US Army Intelligence agent and important CIA contract worker and former FBI employee who ran guns, drugs, counterfeit rare German daggers, stolen archives and much more in and out of various countries from his headquarters in Savannah, Georgia.

During his career, Atwood worked with the CIA’s Sam Cummings, Tom Nelson, Jim Critchfield and many others

Atwood’s activities are linked to Robert Crowley (who knew him and disliked him) ,to Jim Critchfield and a number of other CIA luminaries.

Arrested by the Army’s CIC in the early 60s, for misuse of government mail, tax fraud and other matters,  Atwood  got the CIA to force the charges against him dropped. All the paperwork was supposed to have been destroyed but a copy of the 62 count indictment plus the Chicago Federal judge’s orders have survived.

Atwood operated in the Middle East, Germany and Central America. He sold US secrets to Marcus Wolfe of the Stasi and the BND photographed them together in East Berlin

He smuggled guns into Guatemala and Nicaragua and drugs into the US.

Atwood’s role in supplying weapons and explosives to the Quebec Libré movement. The head of the Canada Desk at the Company was actively encouraging this group to split away from Canada. This is a chapter that the CIA does not want discussed. Atwood’s connections with Skorzeny and the IRA/Provo wing make dramatic reading. One of Atwood’s Irish connections is the man who ran the cell that blew up Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979. There is also the shipping of weapons into the southern Mexican provinces by Atwood and his Guatemala based consortium. Oceanic Cargo.

Atwood had a number of ex-Gestapo and SD people on board, some of whom were wanted for war crimes.

Klaus Barbie was also connected with Atwood

Barbie, who was Gestapo chief in Lyon, France, during the war, worked for the CIC after the war and fled to South America when his American handlers tipped him off. Barbie took some of the hidden Nazi gold and invested it in several businesses and also continued to prosper by starting the Estrella Company which sold bark, coca paste, and assault weapons to a former SS officer, Frederich Schwend in Lima, Peru. Schwend had been trained by the OSS in the early 1940s after he had informed Allen Dulles that the German SS had hidden millions in gold, cash, and loot in the mountains of southern Germany and Austria as the European war was winding down.

Both Schwend and Barbie formed Transmaritania which was a shipping company that also generated millions of dollars in profits from the cocaine business. They purchased their weapons from another SS colleague, Colonel Otto Skorzeny who had been head of SS Commando units towards the end of the war, later worked for the CIA and had started the Merex weapons business in Bonn after the war. Another Atwood contact was one Walter Rauff, a senior SD officer, friend of Dulles and once head of the SD in Milan (after a tour in Tunisia as head of the SD there during Rommel’s campaign in Africa.) The Rauff story is even more entertaining than the Barbie one and more disruptive when it becomes public. Rauff worked for the CIA, lived unmolested and well protected by the CIA, in South America .

While Atwood was involved in supplying weapons to Cuban insurgents for the Bay of Pigs incident, he stated to a number of his associates that he learned of highly classified information on the accidental release, in Florida, of deadly toxins that the CIA was planning to use in advance of the invasion to “soften up” Castro’s militia.

The designated head of the CIA, Porter Goss, was a CIA agent in Florida at this time, was involved in the planning and expected execution of the Cuban invasion and suddenly became “very ill”, as his specs on Google point out, and had to retire. Atwood told his friends that Goss, later a Florida political figure, was a participating party in this specific part of the CIA invasion plans.

In 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was considerable concern expressed in US intelligence circles about the whereabouts, and also the security of, certain ex-Soviet military tactical atomic warheads. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union launched R&D to miniaturize and improve reliability of nuclear weapons. Development activities included strategic systems for the Navy; cruise missiles, aviation bombs and artillery projectiles [the smallest nuclear charge was developed for a 152mm artillery projectile].The model is based on unclassified data on the components in an atomic artillery shell, to see if such a system could be reassembled in a suitcase. Indeed, as it turns out, the physics package, neutron generators, batteries, arming mechanism and other essentials of a small atomic weapon can fit, just barely, in an attaché case. The result is a plutonium-fueled gun-type atomic weapon having a yield of one-to-ten kilotons, the same yield range attributed  in a 1998 US media interview by General Lebed to the Russian “nuclear suitcase” weapon.”

The smallest possible bomb-like object would be a single critical mass of plutonium (or U-233) at maximum density under normal conditions. An unreflected spherical alpha-phase critical mass of Pu-239 weighs 10.5 kg and is 10.1 cm across.

A single critical mass cannot cause an explosion however since it does not cause fission multiplication,  somewhat more than a critical mass is required for that. But it does not take much more than a single critical mass to cause significant explosions. As little as 10% more (1.1 critical masses) can produce explosions of 10-20 tons. This low yield seems trivial compared to weapons with yields in the kilotons or megatons, but it is actually far more dangerous than conventional explosives of equivalent yield due to the intense radiation emitted. A 20 ton fission explosion, for example, produces a very dangerous 500 rem radiation exposure at 400 meters from burst point, and a 100% lethal 1350 rem exposure at 300 meters. In 1991 the US unilaterally withdrew its nuclear artillery shells from service, and Russia responded in kind in 1992. The US removed around 1,300 nuclear shells from Europe. The Russian Defense Ministry has stated officially through the offices of Lieutenant General Igor Valynkin, the head of the ministry’s Twelfth Main Directorate, which is responsible for the storage and security of nuclear weapons, attempted to reassure journalists about the safety of the Russian nuclear arsenal that absolutely all nuclear weapons in the Russian armed forces are currently in the custody of his directorate, which ensures their “state acceptance at the factory, storage in arsenals, servicing, and their transport to the troops.” Valynkin said that because of concerns about the “criminal situation” in Russia, at the beginning of the 1990s all Russian tactical nuclear weapons, including nuclear mines and artillery shells, were removed from the arsenals of individual military units and transferred to special storage sites under the control of the Twelfth Directorate. This step was taken in order to prevent terrorists from gaining access to the weapons, as the arsenals at individual units are much less secure than the central storage sites Referring directly to the issue of the “suitcase” bombs, Valynkin admitted that is technically possible to build a small low-yield nuclear warhead..

In 1992, James Atwood, the former Interarmco people and an Israeli Russian named  Yurenko (actually Schemiel  Gofshstein) formed a consortium in conjunction with James Critchfield, retired senior CIA specialist on oil matters in the Mideast  to obtain a number of these obsolete but still viable weapons. Both Critchfield and the Interarmco people had, at the behest of the CIA, supplied weapons to the rebels in Afghanistan during their protracted struggle with the Soviet Union. Critchfield worked with the Dalai Lama of Tibet in a guerrilla war against Communist China and headed a CIA task force during the Cuban missile crisis. He also ran regional agency operations when the two superpowers raced to secure satellites first in Eastern Europe, then in the Middle East. In the early 1960s, Critchfield recommended to the CIA that the United States support the Baath Party, which staged a 1963 coup against the Iraqi government that the CIA believed was falling under Soviet influence. Critchfield later boasted, during the Iran-Iraq war that he and the CIA “had created Saddam Hussein.” With the growing political importance of Middle East oil, he became the CIA’s national intelligence officer for energy in the late 1960s and early 1970s, then an energy policy planner at the White House. He also fronted a dummy CIA corporation in the Middle East known as Basic Resources, which was used to gather OPEC-related intelligence for the Nixon administration. .Critchfield was the chief of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia division in the 1960s and a national intelligence officer for energy as the oil shortage crisis began in the early 1970s.  Officially retiring from the CIA in 1974, Critchfield became a consultant, corporate president of Tetra Tech International  a Honeywell Inc. subsidiary  and which managed oil, gas, and water projects in the strategic Masandam Peninsula. It sits on the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the West’s oil is transported. At the same time, Critchfield was a primary adviser to the Sultan of Oman., focusing on Middle East energy resources, especially those in Oman.

Utilizing Atwood’s STASI and ex-KGB contacts, they were able to obtain from bribed Russian military personnel, twenty of the atomic warheads. With Critchfield’s Mideast and Afghanistan connections, these warheads were sold to a Pakistani group for an estimated US $20 million in early 1993. “Yurenko” brokered the transfer of money via two banks in Pakistan to a Swiss bank.(Specific account information is known) Some of the money, $US 50,000 was deposited into a so-called “white account” (i.e., one that the SBA could release information on to any outside probers) and the balance into three so-called “black accounts” (i.e., accounts that were truly secret.)

Atwood died suddenly in his home town of Savannah, GA in 1997 while under the surgeon’s knife and left a legacy of double-dealing, amorality and fascinating but hitherto only guessed-at history behind him

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: