FBI Declassified File: ‘Russian Atomic Bomb In… New York City’


Remember the times of Cold War? Well, I’m not talking about the recent events In Ukraine. I’m talking about the time when Soviet Union was considered a threat to United States’ national security. Well, just recently, a new document from that era has been declassified.

The document is part of Government Attic, a website that “provides electronic copies of thousands of interesting Federal Government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act”. The document in question is titled “Atomic Bomb in Unknown Consulate, New York City”. Part of it has been released to the public in 2010. But it has not been reported by press until now.

That document states that “The Soviets have placed an atom bomb in a consulate… in New York City to be detonated at such time as the Soviets consider expedient.” According to the document, this tip was relayed to FBI by an informant from Brazil.

The file also shows that FBI had informants in nearly every consulate, including “Hungarian Consulate, the Polish Consulate, and the Czechoslovakian United Nations Delegation”. So they asked their informants to look for the bomb. None of them reported seeing it or knowing anything about it. FBI themselves were not sure about the accuracy of this information either.

According to The Village Voice, “In September 1951, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the New York bureau wrote to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that there were two possibilities at work”:

‘(1) The information may be true, in which case we have a major security menace on our hands; or (2) the information may be false. In the latter case the possibility exists of it having been disseminated from a Communist source for the purpose of producing panic. It is even possible, if the information is false, that it was disseminated in the hope of finding out what we would do in such a situation; that is, what means we would take to find out if it is true, what informants we may have in various Consulates, etc. In the end, seeing as no bombs were discovered, no action was taken.’

The first possibility stated above seems false. The second possibility seems more plausible. But it seems the special agent has forgotten a third possibility. Their informant wanted to continue being on the FBI payroll.

“How would you sneak an atomic bomb into NYC? It’s not small or is it easy to hide. So why would anyone believe such preposterous information?” You may ask. Well, the short answer is McCarthyism, “the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence”.

This practice was a part of everyday life during “the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from 1950 to 1956 and characterized by heightened political repression against communists, as well as a fear campaign spreading paranoia of their influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents.”

If you ever wondered what would happen if Russian/American relationship got even worse, then you gotta check out that link to Wikipedia’s article about McCarthyism.

Roman Marshanski
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