Newsday Prints Metcalf is Deported
BRITAIN MOVES TO DEPORT CARBON-CARBON FIGURE
By Knut Royce
Newsday Washington Bureau
August 6, 1988
Washington- Britain has begun deportation action against a Scotland-based American businessman who more than three years ago transferred to the Soviet Union vital machinery that can be used to improve the accuracy of nuclear warheads.
In a letter citing his alleged "promotion of Soviet defense interests," the British Home Office yesterday told the American, James Farol Metcalf, that his "departure from the United Kingdom would be conducive to the public good."
Metcalf, who between 1982 and 1985 had been the key architect of the sale of the equipment to the Soviet Union, provided NEWSDAY a copy of the hand-delivered letter. In a telephone interview, he said that he "was not and never [has] been a risk to the security of any nation" and would appeal the action. Sales of the machinery were legal at the time, but they have since been restricted.
Metcalf said that the immigration officer who delivered the document, Roger Knight, told him that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had "seen and approved this letter."
A spokesman for the British Embassy here said he was unable to explain yesterday why the government waited more than three years after the sale to take action against Metcalf, who is married to a Soviet citizen. A State Department spokesman said he could not comment on the case because the department was unaware of the British action.
Because he is an American, Metcalf could be deported to the United States. He has lived in Scotland since the early 1980s.
Newsday disclosed in November how Metcalf, at the time vice president of a New Jersey firm, Consarc, and director of the Scottish subsidiary that sold the machinery, deftly arranged the shipments of the equipment even as U.S. and British agencies fumbled opportunities to halt the sale.
When the British government finally embargoed the machinery on Feb. 8, 1985, all that was left at a British dock was, in Metcalf's words, "scrap . . . of no value whatsoever." The contract, which stipulated that the Soviets would pay in full after completion of the final delivery, had been insured by the British government. Because the final shipment was not made, Britain ended up paying most of the $11 million contract cost for the machinery that had already been shipped to the Soviets, and the Soviets paid nothing.
After the British embargo and America's subsequent restrictions on the sale of the equipment to the Soviet bloc, the United States declared that the transfer had been averted and cited the incident as an example of mutual cooperation in thwarting the sale of critical technology. But after the Newsday articles and subsequent congressional hearings, U.S. officials admitted that the sale was one of the five most damaging technology losses to the Eastern bloc.
The equipment-specialized industrial furnaces and presses-is used in the United States for a classified process to manufacture a durable and heat-resistant composite called carbon-carbon. Since 1978, carbon-carbon has been applied on the nose tips of America's newest strategic warheads for the MX, the Trident D-5 and the Minuteman 3 missiles.
The material burns off in a slow, predictable manner as the warhead re-enters the atmosphere, thus reducing the "wobble" associated with previous generations of composites as the warhead nears target.
Metcalf still insists he did nothing wrong. In an appeal letter he said he is delivering to the Home Office, he said he wrote that his dealings with the Soviets were "with the approval, knowledge and assistance of the United States and British governments."
He also said he is reminding the government that British subjects are currently at the Soviet plant repairing and fine tuning the equipment. British law can bar the transfer of equipment or technological data but, unlike in the United States, it cannot prohibit subjects from working abroad.
"I'm going to argue that as a citizen of this planet that I am not, have not been and never will be a threat to the national security of anybody's nation. Period," he said.
He said he is not optimistic his appeal will be successful.