Nuclear War By Accident
How We Were Saved From Global Annihilation
How the World Almost Ended in the Fall of 1983
by Joshua Krause
It all started on September 1st, 1983, when a Soviet interceptor shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which killed an American Congressman on board. Diplomatic relations took a turn for the worse between the two nations, and the Soviet military became more paranoid than they had ever been before.
These tensions were largely responsible for the atmosphere of tension that almost caused a nuclear war three weeks later. This incident became rather well-known after the end of the Cold War, when it was revealed that a single officer with the Soviet Air Defense Forces prevented World War Three. A signal from a faulty detection system told the officer that the US had just launched a preemptive strike, and fortunately for the human race, he chose to ignore it. However, that wasn’t the only close call from that time period.
In November of that year, the United States started a massive military training exercise in Europe that was code-named Able Archer 83. The ten-day exercise involved 19,000 US troops from across the world and multiple NATO nations.
The point of the exercise was to train our forces on how to transition from a conventional war to a nuclear war, should they ever have to fight the Soviets. Now for the first time, declassified documents have been published by the National Security Archive (a non-government non-profit) which reveal that this training exercise nearly sparked World War Three.
According to the documents, the Soviets were already freaking out about the possibility of a preemptive strike by the US, after 600 Pershing missiles were fielded by NATO. It started out a mere theory, but eventually became conventional wisdom among KGB officials. Everyone believed that our government was preparing to destroy them without cause.
These fears were escalated by the shortcomings of their own defenses, which were falling behind America’s highly capable nuclear arsenal. They came to the conclusion that any first strike against them would completely obliterate their defenses, and leave them with nothing to retaliate with.
So once Able Archer began, they were already on a hair-trigger. Given the scale and the purpose of the operation (which was to train for a nuclear war) the Soviets were convinced that the whole training exercise was a ruse; an attempt to get our forces fully mobilized without raising any alarms. We were essentially simulating the worst fears of the Soviet intelligence community. Warsaw pact militaries responded by pulling nukes from storage and sending them to delivery sites, as well as suspending most routine military flights so that these aircraft would be available for combat.
Despite these actions, the United States was completely clueless. Nobody in the chain of command, including the President, had any idea that the Soviets were losing their minds over our actions. In fact, the military was aware that the Soviets were on a higher state of alert, but didn’t think anything of it. No changes were made to our defense posture.
Our military completely dropped the ball, and ultimately, that’s what prevented war from breaking out. Since our military never thought anything was amiss, they never escalated a situation that they were completely unaware of. The training exercise came and went without anyone going to war.
So in a nutshell, our lack of knowledge led us to conduct a training exercise that almost provoked a nuclear war, and our lack of awareness prevented that war from occurring. It is by nothing less than dumb luck that we are still breathing today. Hopefully, the United States and Russia will look back on this incident and remember how close we came to the brink, before they conduct any more of their provocative training exercises in Eastern Europe.
Remembering the Man Who Single-handedly Stopped WW3
Last June a uniquely shaped cloud incited a minor panic in Southern Russia. The cloud formation, which looked suspiciously similar to a nuclear explosion, had locals scrambling to take pictures, which quickly went viral across Russia. Twitter and Instagram users responded to the images with phrases like “World War III has begun” and “Oh, God save us. What have they done?!!!”
Since you’re reading this on your computer right now instead of hunkering down in a bunker, you already know that this incident was much ado about nothing. But it’s safe to say that just a few years ago, such a response would be unlikely. Russia and the United States are currently resting on pins and needles, and tensions haven’t been this high since the Cold War. When people start losing their minds over strange clouds, you know the public is living in a state of chronic fear.
But in regards to the threat of a possible nuclear holocaust, I think it’s time we all take a step back from this situation like cool little Fonzies, and chill. I don’t mean to say that everything is hunky-dory, because it’s not. But I think we need to put these fears into perspective, and realize that the current tensions pale in comparison to some of the close calls we had in the Cold War.
Specifically, I’d like to share the story of Stanislav Petrov, and explain why most of us are alive today because of him. Until recently, most people had never heard of him, and his exploits weren’t revealed until the Soviet Union was crumbling in 1990.
Stanislav Petrov was an officer with the Soviet Air Defense Forces. On September 26th, 1983, he manned his post in a secret military bunker just outside of Moscow. The command center was responsible for detecting any incoming nuclear strikes, and his job was to monitor the early warning system. Unbeknownst to Petrov, he was about to have a rough day at the office.
Just after midnight, the alarm bells started ringing on the Soviet’s new detection system, known as “Oko“. Apparently, the Americans had just launched a single ICBM towards the Soviet Union. According the system, and everything that Petrov had been taught to interpret from it, World War Three had just begun.
However, the launching of a single missile didn’t sound like a reasonable way to attack the Soviets, since a swarm ICBMs would be more likely to overcome their defenses. Something in his gut told him that this was not an attack. He decided to report the incident to his superiors as a false alarm. It wasn’t long after that the early warning system detected four more missiles heading towards his country.
Put yourself in his place. What would you have done? You know this new defense system creates false alarms from time to time, but to have five alerts in rapid succession?
And while the nature of the attack was unlike anything Petrov was trained to expect, the paranoid Soviet military was in fact, poised to respond to a NATO incursion at that time. Just three weeks prior, a South Korean airliner had accidentally wandered into Soviet airspace and was promptly shot down, killing numerous passengers, including US Congressman Larry McDonald. As a whole, the Soviet system was bracing for a retaliation, and people like Petrov were told to expect the worst.
But when faced with nuclear annihilation, and only minutes to spare before these suspected missiles reached their targets, Petrov decided to trust his gut and common sense, instead of following protocol. He saddled up his brass pair, and declared another false alarm. Of course, his instincts were correct. The “missiles” detected by Oko were later determined to be caused by sunlight shining through high altitude clouds before making contact with Soviet satellites.
So just how close did we come to Armageddon?
According to recent interviews conducted with Petrov, it was an unbelievably close call. Even after the incident, he was never completely sure that the alert was a false alarm. He believes that in retrospect, there was about a 50/50 chance that he would have given the right call, and his information would have been given priority over other systems that weren’t detecting any attacks at that time.
In fact, he thinks that if anyone else had been in charge that day, it would have ended horribly, because he was the only military officer in that position with a civilian education. “My colleagues were all professional soldiers, they were taught to give and obey orders.” Anyone else would have passed the buck up the chain of command, possibly with disastrous results.
So the next time you or anyone else fears that a nuclear holocaust is in our future, remind yourself that even when all the odds stacked against the human race, the people manning the battle stations may be reluctant to pull the trigger.
From The Daily Sheeple @ http://www.thedailysheeple.com/how-the-world-almost-ended-in-the-fall-of-1983_102015 and http://www.thedailysheeple.com/remembering-the-man-who-single-handedly-stopped-ww3_062015
The man who saved the world: The Soviet submariner who single-handedly averted WWIII at height of the Cuban Missile Crisis
- U.S.S.R. and U.S. stood on brink of nuclear war during Cuban Missile Crisis
- Four Russian submarines secretly set sail to Cuba, with nuclear weapons
- Vasili Arkhipov, who died in 1998, used last veto against firing sub's torpedo
- The Russians instead surrendered and his action avoided World War Three
A documentary told how for 13 days during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, the world held its breath as the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. stood on the brink of nuclear war.
At the height of the Cold War, when paranoia on both sides meant the slightest provocation could spark nuclear war, four submarines secretly set sail from Russia to communist Cuba.
Only a handful of the submariners on board knew that their ships carried nuclear weapons, each with the strength of the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.
Vasili Arkhipov, aboard the sub B59, was one of them. As his craft neared Cuba, U.S. helicopters, aeroplanes and battleships were scouring the ocean for Russian subs.
'At that period of time it was called "special weapon", not "nuclear torpedo",’ said Viktor Mikhailov, junior navigator on Sub B-59. ‘At that time we couldn't even imagine a nuclear torpedo.’
In a game of high stakes cat and mouse it wasn't long before the Russians were spotted. Arkhipov's sub was forced to make an emergency dive.
'Basically what we were trying to do was apply passive torture. Frankly I don't think we felt any sympathy for them at all. They were the enemy'
- Gary Slaughter, USS Cony signalman
Above them, the U.S. navy were 'hunting by exhaustion' - trying to force the Soviet sub to come to the surface to recharge its batteries.
They had no idea that on board the submarines were weapons capable of destroying the entire American fleet.
Gary Slaughter, a signalman on board the USS Cony battleship, said: 'We knew they were probably having trouble breathing. It was hot as hell in there, they were miserable.
'They said that the person who prevented a nuclear war was the Russian submariner Vasili Arkhipov. I was proud and I am proud of my husband always'
- Olga Arkipov, widow of Vasili Arkhipov
'Frankly I don't think we felt any sympathy for them at all. They were the enemy.'
The Americans decided to ratchet up the pressure, and dropped warning grenades into the sea. Inside the sub, the Soviet submariners thought they were under attack.
Valentin Savitsky, the captain of B59, was convinced the nuclear war had already started.
He demanded that the submariners launch their torpedo to save some of Russia's pride.
The programme on Channel 5 revealed how in any normal circumstances Savitsky's orders would have been followed, and World War Three would have been unleashed.
'One of the Russian admirals told the submariners: "It would have been better if you'd gone down with your ship". Extraordinary'
- Thomas Blanton, historian
Savitsky hadn't counted on Arkhipov. As commander of the fleet, Arkhipov had the last veto. And although his men were against him, he insisted that they must not fire - and instead surrender.
It was a humiliating move - but one that saved the world. The Soviet submariners were forced to return to their native Russia, where they were given the opposite of a hero's welcome.
Historian Thomas Blanton told the Sun: 'What heroism, what duty, they fulfilled to go halfway across the world and come back, and survive.
'Vasili Arkhipov was a submariner and a close friend of mine. He was a family friend. He stood out for being cool-headed. He was in control'
- Ryurik Ketov, commander of Sub B-4
Four decades passed before the story of what really happened on the B59 sub was discovered. It was after Arkipov had died in 1998 from radiation poisoning.
But to his widow Olga, he was always a hero.
She said: 'He knew that it was madness to fire the nuclear torpedo. In Cuba, in honour of the 40th anniversary of the crisis, people gathered.
‘They said that the person who prevented a nuclear war was the Russian submariner Vasili Arkhipov. I was proud and I am proud of my husband always.’
From The Daily Mail @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2208342/Soviet-submariner-single-handedly-averted-WWIII-height-Cuban-Missile-Crisis.html
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