Tuesday, January 25, 2005

On this day in military history....in 1995

On this day in military history….in 1995. In what could be the plot for a Hollywood movie, a missile carrying scientific instruments from Spitzbergen, Norway almost caused a nuclear “Armageddon”. Russian early-warning defense radars detected the unexpected launch and determined that the missile would impact Moscow. Russian President Yeltsin was informed of the missile launch and the nuclear command systems were “switched” to combat mode. The famous “nuclear suitcases” were activated for the first time in history. Five minutes after launch, the Russians determined that the missile’s impact point would be outside of Russia’s borders. After three more minutes, President Yeltsin was informed that the launch was not part of a surprise Western nuclear strike. These conclusions came minutes before a Russian nuclear response would have been ordered based on “launch-on-warning” protocols. It was revealed later that nine days previously, Norway had notified 35 countries, including Russia, about the planned missile launch. The Russian Defense Ministry had received the warning, but had neglected to inform the personnel of the early-warning command center of the planned launch. Lucky for the world, the Russians were able to sort things out before they launched. Don’t you feel safer now?


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