HELSINGIN SANOMAT international

Foreign - Wednesday 22.10.2003

Former CEO says CIA responsible for bringing down Rauma-Repola Oceanics submarine technology firm

 USA opposed exporting hi-tech equipment from Finland to Soviet Union

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Submarine technology firm Rauma-Repola Oceanics was shut down in the 1980s because of pressure from the CIA, claims Tauno Matomäki in a Metallitekniikka magazine interview. Matomäki is a former CEO of Rauma-Repola, and was Chairman of the Board of UPM-Kymmene until his retirement in 2001.
   
The "official" explanation for closing the shop, namely the empty order books, was false information. Matomäki feels it is the moment to set the record straight now that the times have changed.

Rauma-Repola's submarine undertaking
was in contravention of the U.S. ban on the export of hi-tech equipment to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Finland never actually signed the export ban.
   
Rauma-Repola managed to build and deliver two deep-sea submersibles, Mir I and Mir II, to the Soviet Union. Oceanics was created in 1983 and disbanded soon after the Mirs had been delivered in 1987.
   
Matomäki believes the Americans would have used severe politico-commercial sanctions against Rauma-Repola had Oceanics continued in operation.
   
"We were given the names of companies that had not adhered to the Americans' recommendations. Without exception all these companies had gone bust", Matomäki says.
   
According to Matomäki, he and other executives of Oceanics were called several times to be heard by the Pentagon. The President of the United States George Bush sent a letter concerning the submersibles undertaking to Finnish President Mauno Koivisto. Koivisto mentions this in his book Kaksi kautta (Two Terms).
   
In his reply Koivisto had stated to Bush that the Finnish government could not interfere with the legal enterprises of private companies.

The American Embassy
in Helsinki was aware of the submarine project right from the start. At first it was ignored, because the Americans didn't believe the Finns could produce a mini-sub capable of diving to six-kilometre depths.
   
They were wrong. The experiment was so successful, Matomäki believes, that without the American interference deep-sea technology could very well have become Rauma-Repola's main field of operation.
   
"We were shot down in mid-flight", Matomäki says to Metallitekniikka.
   
There would apparently have been a market for the Oceanics products. The two Mirs are still the best deep-sea submersible vessels ever made. They were, for instance, the first ones on site when the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sank in August 2000.


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