History Main / ANuclearError

20th Jul '17 3:11:47 PM garthvader
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** A related error is the idea of "nuclear launch codes" that the President, or a similar official, has ''memorised''. This is often used to establish a TickingClock scenario where the President must be rescued before some villain can extract the codes from him, or simply be why the President must not be allowed to be captured in the first place. In real life, the launch codes are written down (since you don't really want your country blown up without retaliation because someone can't remember a code) and usually kept in the nuclear launch case, issue orders rather than allowing the direct remote launching of weapons, and would be changed if the President was compromised in some way anyway.

to:

** A related error is the idea of "nuclear launch codes" that the President, or a similar official, has ''memorised''. This is often used to establish a TickingClock scenario where the President must be rescued before some villain can extract the codes from him, or simply be why the President must not be allowed to be captured in the first place. In real life, the launch codes are written down (since you don't really want your country blown up without retaliation because someone can't remember a code) and usually kept in the nuclear launch case, briefcase, issue orders rather than allowing the direct remote launching of weapons, and would be changed if the President was compromised in some way anyway.
20th Jul '17 3:05:40 PM garthvader
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** In 1983, war tensions were high between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. For a few years, the USSR under Brezhnev and Andropov were terrified that a United States first strike was imminent, and had instituted the [=RYaN=] (from the Russian meaning something like "Nuclear Rocket Attack") program to find any hints of warlike intentions. [[note]](To make things even worse on this score, the agents tasked with finding this information were berated if they didn't gather positive signs of preparation for a US first strike -- anything that suggested the US was NOT about to nuke Moscow was derided as "misinformation" --, and so liberally interpreted every scrap of info in the worst possible sense. In short, the Soviets were talking themselves, quite by accident, into the very nuclear war they feared was coming from the other side.)[[/note]] In the summer of '83, the Able Archer '83 exercises (a NATO communications exercise meant to simulate the first week of WorldWarThree, culminating on the last day with a rehearsal of an expected nuclear exchange) were held, this coinciding with the controversial arrival of Pershing nuclear missiles [[note]]which were capable of hitting Russia within five to six minutes, well under any sort of Soviet early-warning capability[[/note]]. The Soviets were monitoring in real time and were becoming increasingly alarmed at the exercise. The coinciding of the two events sent Soviet suspicions through the roof. [[FromBadToWorse And, the Soviet early-warning satellite system was fundamentally flawed.]] The system registered five [=ICBM=]s from three separate launches headed towards Russia.[[note]]In reality, what had happened was that sunlight reflecting off the Earth hit in just the right manner to appear to the satellite's IR sensors to be missile launches.[[/note]] [[OnlySaneMan Colonel Stanislav Petrov]], the officer in charge of the station, realized quickly that the United States would not launch a first strike with just five missiles -- had they actually intended to initiate war they'd have launched ''everything'', in an attempt to cut the head off their enemy before it could retaliate significantly. Suspecting an equipment error, he shut down the first two alarms, and explained to his superiors that he was ignoring the third, citing the fact that only five missiles had been launched. Had he instead given credence to the alarms, the Soviet Union would most likely have launched a "counter"-strike, which the USA would have correctly seen as a first strike. An actual counter-strike would have followed, and we wouldn't be reading [[HomePage TVTropes]] right now. [[ForWantOfANail And, to top it all off, Petrov wasn't supposed to be the man on duty that day. He had taken the shift for another operator who was sick.]] Needless to say, Petrov -- the man who very literally ''saved humanity'' -- was [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished promptly relieved of duty]] pending [[HauledBeforeASenateSubCommittee an official inquiry.]] (For what it's worth, they decided he'd acted properly and he was reinstated.)

to:

** In 1983, war tensions were high between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. For a few years, the USSR under Brezhnev and Andropov were terrified that a United States first strike was imminent, and had instituted the [=RYaN=] (from the Russian meaning something like "Nuclear Rocket Attack") program to find any hints of warlike intentions. [[note]](To make things even worse on this score, the agents tasked with finding this information were berated if they didn't gather positive signs of preparation for a US first strike -- anything that suggested the US was NOT about to nuke Moscow was derided as "misinformation" --, and so liberally interpreted every scrap of info in the worst possible sense. In short, the Soviets were talking themselves, quite by accident, into the very nuclear war they feared was coming from the other side.)[[/note]] In the summer of '83, the Able Archer '83 exercises (a NATO communications exercise meant to simulate the first week of WorldWarThree, culminating on the last day with a rehearsal of an expected nuclear exchange) were held, this coinciding with the controversial arrival of Pershing nuclear missiles [[note]]which were capable of hitting Russia within five to six minutes, well under any sort of Soviet early-warning capability[[/note]]. The Soviets were monitoring in real time and were becoming increasingly alarmed at the exercise. The coinciding of the two events sent Soviet suspicions through the roof. [[FromBadToWorse And, the Soviet early-warning satellite system was fundamentally flawed.]] The system registered five [=ICBM=]s from three separate launches headed towards Russia.[[note]]In reality, what had happened was that sunlight reflecting off the Earth hit in just the right manner to appear to the satellite's IR sensors to be missile launches.[[/note]] [[OnlySaneMan Colonel Stanislav Petrov]], the officer in charge of the station, realized quickly that the United States would not launch a first strike with just five missiles -- had they actually intended to initiate war they'd have launched ''everything'', in an attempt to cut the head off their enemy before it could retaliate significantly. Suspecting an equipment error, especially since he could not corroborate the apparent launches with radar data (which said there were no missiles at all), he shut down the first two alarms, and explained to his superiors that he was ignoring the third, citing the fact that only five missiles had been launched. Had he instead It is somewhat exaggerated how much of a threat this was given credence to the alarms, non-correlation of the radar and satellite data, and this example is often treated as if Petrov had authority to launch missiles ''himself'', but it is ''possible'' that if he had treated the alarm as genuine the Soviet Union would most likely have launched responded with a "counter"-strike, which "counter" launch, leading to a real counterlaunch from the USA would have correctly seen as a first strike. An actual counter-strike would have followed, US and we wouldn't be reading [[HomePage TVTropes]] right now.MAD. [[ForWantOfANail And, to top it all off, Petrov wasn't supposed to be the man on duty that day. He had taken the shift for another operator who was sick.]] Needless to say, The Soviet Union being what it was, Petrov -- the man who very literally ''saved humanity'' -- was [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished promptly relieved of duty]] pending [[HauledBeforeASenateSubCommittee an official inquiry.]] inquiry]], primarily because admitting the satellite system was flawed would be a huge embarrassment for the Soviet Union. (For what it's worth, they decided he'd acted properly and he was reinstated.)
20th Jul '17 2:57:16 PM garthvader
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** A related error is the idea of "nuclear launch codes" that the President, or a similar official, has ''memorised''. This is often used to establish a TickingClock scenario where the President must be rescued before some villain can extract the codes from him, or simply be why the President must not be allowed to be captured in the first place. In real life, the launch codes are written down (since you don't really want your country blown up without retaliation because someone can't remember a code) and usually kept in the nuclear launch case, issue orders rather than allowing the direct remote launching of weapons, and would be changed if the President was compromised in some way anyway.



*** Now we're safely past any shadow of doubt that, yes, North ''does'' have fully fulctional nukes, and has actually almost produced a thermonuclear warhead as of early 2017, their last test clearly shows signs of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boosted_fission_weapon boosted fission]], which is a last step before the true H-bomb.
* Disarming a ICBM Post-Launch: Deployed strategic ballistic missiles do not have any mechanisms for the attacker to remotely disarm or destroy the weapons after launch. For all intents and purposes once the missile has been fired it can only be stopped either by mechanical malfunction or interception. Missiles which are used for testing are modified with a self-destruct mechanism in case something goes wrong, but live warheads are not used for testing the missiles.

to:

*** Now we're safely past any shadow of doubt that, yes, North ''does'' have fully fulctional functional nukes, and has actually almost produced a thermonuclear warhead as of early 2017, their last test clearly shows signs of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boosted_fission_weapon boosted fission]], which is a last step before the true H-bomb.
* Disarming a ICBM Post-Launch: Deployed strategic ballistic missiles do not have any mechanisms for the attacker to remotely disarm or destroy the weapons after launch.launch, and use inertial guidance based their manoeuvres from a known initial launching position and so cannot be steered off-course either. For all intents and purposes once the missile has been fired it can only be stopped either by mechanical malfunction or interception. Missiles which are used for testing are modified with a self-destruct mechanism in case something goes wrong, but live warheads are not used for testing the missiles.
9th Apr '17 3:46:34 AM Khathi
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* Presidential power: The US President cannot launch a nuclear first strike without the cooperation of the Secretary of Defense or any other administrative official that's been appointed/approved by Congress (e.g., CIA director, most of the Presidential Cabinet...). Ordering a retaliatory strike was something a number of people had authority to do. The plane known as "Looking Glass" had authority to do so in the event that the National Command Authority was killed or out of contact. Were DEFCON to reach level 2, both pilot and co-pilot would be required to wear eye-patches in case a nuclear explosion render their exposed eye either momentarily or permanently blind. Nowadays they use goggles that instantaneously turn opaque when exposed to the bright flash of a nuclear detonation and then return to clear to allow the pilots to see clearly. While current policies are classified, it can be assumed that after a major strike on the USA, remaining weapons would be released, with or without higher command. For the Soviets, supposedly, the semi-automatic [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perimetr Perimetr]] system had three human operators who were able to give the order to launch all remaining warheads in case when on-site seismic detectors detected multiple nuclear explosions on Soviet soil and high command is inaccessible. It is unknown if the system is still in use today.

to:

* Presidential power: The US President cannot launch a nuclear first strike without the cooperation of the Secretary of Defense or any other administrative official that's been appointed/approved by Congress (e.g., CIA director, most of the Presidential Cabinet...). Ordering a retaliatory strike was something a number of people had authority to do. The plane known as "Looking Glass" had authority to do so in the event that the National Command Authority was killed or out of contact. Were DEFCON to reach level 2, both pilot and co-pilot would be required to wear eye-patches in case a nuclear explosion render their exposed eye either momentarily or permanently blind. Nowadays they use goggles that instantaneously turn opaque when exposed to the bright flash of a nuclear detonation and then return to clear to allow the pilots to see clearly. While current policies are classified, it can be assumed that after a major strike on the USA, remaining weapons would be released, with or without higher command. For the Soviets, supposedly, the semi-automatic [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perimetr Perimetr]] system had three human operators who were able to give the order to launch all remaining warheads in case when on-site seismic detectors detected multiple nuclear explosions on Soviet soil and high command is inaccessible. It inaccessible.
** The ''Perimetr''
is unknown if only a part of the larger all-encompassing ''Kazbek'' control system that also includes aforementioned nuclear briefcases, and it serves as its "fail-deadly" fallback that ensures that the retaliatory strike will be launched even if ''everyone'' in the chain of command is still incapacitated. It is, however, in use today.a standby mode normally, and is supposed to be activated only when there is imminent threat of an attack.


Added DiffLines:

*** Now we're safely past any shadow of doubt that, yes, North ''does'' have fully fulctional nukes, and has actually almost produced a thermonuclear warhead as of early 2017, their last test clearly shows signs of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boosted_fission_weapon boosted fission]], which is a last step before the true H-bomb.
9th Apr '17 3:33:32 AM Khathi
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Added DiffLines:

** The Soviet/Russian nuclear briefcase, codenamed "Cheget", after a mountain the the Caucasus, is actually a communication terminal that's ''always'' online, and has been ever since the system was activated in 1983. If it ever loses connection with the "Kazbek"[[note]]Another mountain[[/note]] control system of the Strategic Nuclear Forces, it's regarded as a "Launch" command, because it's taken as a sign that its bearer is incapacitated. There are three such briefcases, one for the President[[note]]CPSU General Secretary in Soviet times, actual Soviet President was a technical position that didn't carry much political power until UsefulNotes/MikhailGorbachev.[[/note]], one for the Defence Minister and one for the Chief of General Staff. An actual nuclear strike requires receiving the command from at least two out of three devices.
7th Apr '17 2:30:02 AM TheAmazingBlachman
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** In 1983, war tensions were high between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. For a few years, the USSR under Brezhnev and Andropov were terrified that a United States first strike was imminent, and had instituted the [=RYaN=] (from the Russian meaning something like "Nuclear Rocket Attack") program to find any hints of warlike intentions. [[note]](To make things even worse on this score, the agents tasked with finding this information were berated if they didn't gather positive signs of preparation for a US first strike -- anything that suggested the US was NOT about to nuke Moscow was derided as "misinformation" --, and so liberally interpreted every scrap of info in the worst possible sense. In short, the Soviets were talking themselves, quite by accident, into the very nuclear war they feared was coming from the other side.)[[/note]] In the summer of '83, the Able Archer '83 exercises (a NATO communications exercise meant to simulate the first week of WorldWarThree, culminating on the last day with a rehearsal of an expected nuclear exchange) were held, this coinciding with the controversial arrival of Pershing nuclear missiles [[note]]which were capable of hitting Russia within five to six minutes, well under any sort of Soviet early-warning capability[[/note]]. The Soviets were monitoring in real time and were becoming increasingly alarmed at the exercise. The coinciding of the two events sent Soviet suspicions through the roof. [[FromBadToWorse And, the Soviet early-warning satellite system was fundamentally flawed.]] The system registered five [=ICBM=]s from three separate launches headed towards Russia.[[note]]In reality, what had happened was that sunlight reflecting off the Earth hit in just the right manner to appear to the satellite's IR sensors to be missile launches.[[/note]] [[OnlySaneMan Colonel Stanislav Petrov]], the officer in charge of the station, realized quickly that the United States would not launch a first strike with just five missiles - had they actually intended to initiate war they'd have launched ''everything'', in an attempt to cut the head off their enemy before it could retaliate significantly. Suspecting an equipment error, he shut down the first two alarms, and explained to his superiors that he was ignoring the third, citing the fact that only five missiles had been launched. Had he instead given credence to the alarms, the Soviet Union would most likely have launched a "counter"-strike, which the USA would have correctly seen as a first strike. An actual counter-strike would have followed, and we wouldn't be reading [[HomePage TVTropes]] right now. [[ForWantOfANail And, to top it all off, Petrov wasn't supposed to be the man on duty that day. He had taken the shift for another operator who was sick.]] Needless to say, Petrov -- the man who very literally ''saved humanity'' -- was [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished promptly relieved of duty]] pending [[HauledBeforeASenateSubCommittee an official inquiry.]] (For what it's worth, they decided he'd acted properly and he was reinstated.)

to:

** In 1983, war tensions were high between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. For a few years, the USSR under Brezhnev and Andropov were terrified that a United States first strike was imminent, and had instituted the [=RYaN=] (from the Russian meaning something like "Nuclear Rocket Attack") program to find any hints of warlike intentions. [[note]](To make things even worse on this score, the agents tasked with finding this information were berated if they didn't gather positive signs of preparation for a US first strike -- anything that suggested the US was NOT about to nuke Moscow was derided as "misinformation" --, and so liberally interpreted every scrap of info in the worst possible sense. In short, the Soviets were talking themselves, quite by accident, into the very nuclear war they feared was coming from the other side.)[[/note]] In the summer of '83, the Able Archer '83 exercises (a NATO communications exercise meant to simulate the first week of WorldWarThree, culminating on the last day with a rehearsal of an expected nuclear exchange) were held, this coinciding with the controversial arrival of Pershing nuclear missiles [[note]]which were capable of hitting Russia within five to six minutes, well under any sort of Soviet early-warning capability[[/note]]. The Soviets were monitoring in real time and were becoming increasingly alarmed at the exercise. The coinciding of the two events sent Soviet suspicions through the roof. [[FromBadToWorse And, the Soviet early-warning satellite system was fundamentally flawed.]] The system registered five [=ICBM=]s from three separate launches headed towards Russia.[[note]]In reality, what had happened was that sunlight reflecting off the Earth hit in just the right manner to appear to the satellite's IR sensors to be missile launches.[[/note]] [[OnlySaneMan Colonel Stanislav Petrov]], the officer in charge of the station, realized quickly that the United States would not launch a first strike with just five missiles - -- had they actually intended to initiate war they'd have launched ''everything'', in an attempt to cut the head off their enemy before it could retaliate significantly. Suspecting an equipment error, he shut down the first two alarms, and explained to his superiors that he was ignoring the third, citing the fact that only five missiles had been launched. Had he instead given credence to the alarms, the Soviet Union would most likely have launched a "counter"-strike, which the USA would have correctly seen as a first strike. An actual counter-strike would have followed, and we wouldn't be reading [[HomePage TVTropes]] right now. [[ForWantOfANail And, to top it all off, Petrov wasn't supposed to be the man on duty that day. He had taken the shift for another operator who was sick.]] Needless to say, Petrov -- the man who very literally ''saved humanity'' -- was [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished promptly relieved of duty]] pending [[HauledBeforeASenateSubCommittee an official inquiry.]] (For what it's worth, they decided he'd acted properly and he was reinstated.)
7th Apr '17 2:29:24 AM TheAmazingBlachman
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** In 1983, war tensions were high between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. For a few years, the USSR under Brezhnev and Andropov were terrified that a United States first strike was imminent, and had instituted the [=RYaN=] (from the Russian meaning something like "Nuclear Rocket Attack") program to find any hints of warlike intentions. [[note]](To make things even worse on this score, the agents tasked with finding this information were berated if they didn't gather positive signs of preparation for a US first strike -- anything that suggested the US was NOT about to nuke Moscow was derided as "misinformation" --, and so liberally interpreted every scrap of info in the worst possible sense. In short, the Soviets were talking themselves, quite by accident, into the very nuclear war they feared was coming from the other side.)[[/note]] In the summer of '83, the Able Archer '83 exercises (a NATO communications exercise meant to simulate the first week of WorldWarThree, culminating on the last day with a rehearsal of an expected nuclear exchange) were held, this coinciding with the controversial arrival of Pershing nuclear missiles [[note]]which were capable of hitting Russia within five to six minutes, well under any sort of Soviet early-warning capability[[/note]]. The Soviets were monitoring in real time and were becoming increasingly alarmed at the exercise. The coinciding of the two events sent Soviet suspicions through the roof. [[FromBadToWorse And, the Soviet early-warning satellite system was fundamentally flawed.]] The system registered five [=ICBM=]s from three separate launches headed towards Russia.[[note]]In reality, what had happened was that sunlight reflecting off the Earth hit in just the right manner to appear to the satellite's IR sensors to be missile launches.[[/note]] [[OnlySaneMan Stanislav Petrov]], the officer in charge of the station, realized quickly that the United States would not launch a first strike with just five missiles - had they actually intended to initiate war they'd have launched ''everything'', in an attempt to cut the head off their enemy before it could retaliate significantly. Suspecting an equipment error, he shut down the first two alarms, and explained to his superiors that he was ignoring the third, citing the fact that only five missiles had been launched. Had he instead given credence to the alarms, the Soviet Union would most likely have launched a "counter"-strike, which the USA would have correctly seen as a first strike. An actual counter-strike would have followed, and we wouldn't be reading [[HomePage TVTropes]] right now. [[ForWantOfANail And, to top it all off, Petrov wasn't supposed to be the man on duty that day. He had taken the shift for another operator who was sick.]] Needless to say, Petrov - the man who very literally ''saved humanity'' - was [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished promptly relieved of duty]] pending [[HauledBeforeASenateSubCommittee an official inquiry.]] (For what it's worth, they decided he'd acted properly and he was reinstated.)

to:

** In 1983, war tensions were high between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. For a few years, the USSR under Brezhnev and Andropov were terrified that a United States first strike was imminent, and had instituted the [=RYaN=] (from the Russian meaning something like "Nuclear Rocket Attack") program to find any hints of warlike intentions. [[note]](To make things even worse on this score, the agents tasked with finding this information were berated if they didn't gather positive signs of preparation for a US first strike -- anything that suggested the US was NOT about to nuke Moscow was derided as "misinformation" --, and so liberally interpreted every scrap of info in the worst possible sense. In short, the Soviets were talking themselves, quite by accident, into the very nuclear war they feared was coming from the other side.)[[/note]] In the summer of '83, the Able Archer '83 exercises (a NATO communications exercise meant to simulate the first week of WorldWarThree, culminating on the last day with a rehearsal of an expected nuclear exchange) were held, this coinciding with the controversial arrival of Pershing nuclear missiles [[note]]which were capable of hitting Russia within five to six minutes, well under any sort of Soviet early-warning capability[[/note]]. The Soviets were monitoring in real time and were becoming increasingly alarmed at the exercise. The coinciding of the two events sent Soviet suspicions through the roof. [[FromBadToWorse And, the Soviet early-warning satellite system was fundamentally flawed.]] The system registered five [=ICBM=]s from three separate launches headed towards Russia.[[note]]In reality, what had happened was that sunlight reflecting off the Earth hit in just the right manner to appear to the satellite's IR sensors to be missile launches.[[/note]] [[OnlySaneMan Colonel Stanislav Petrov]], the officer in charge of the station, realized quickly that the United States would not launch a first strike with just five missiles - had they actually intended to initiate war they'd have launched ''everything'', in an attempt to cut the head off their enemy before it could retaliate significantly. Suspecting an equipment error, he shut down the first two alarms, and explained to his superiors that he was ignoring the third, citing the fact that only five missiles had been launched. Had he instead given credence to the alarms, the Soviet Union would most likely have launched a "counter"-strike, which the USA would have correctly seen as a first strike. An actual counter-strike would have followed, and we wouldn't be reading [[HomePage TVTropes]] right now. [[ForWantOfANail And, to top it all off, Petrov wasn't supposed to be the man on duty that day. He had taken the shift for another operator who was sick.]] Needless to say, Petrov - -- the man who very literally ''saved humanity'' - -- was [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished promptly relieved of duty]] pending [[HauledBeforeASenateSubCommittee an official inquiry.]] (For what it's worth, they decided he'd acted properly and he was reinstated.)
12th Mar '17 6:46:51 PM Snow_Fire
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Added DiffLines:

** While the Soviets had such a policy, it was a policy that could have been undone at the stroke of a pen by the Premier, so movies hypothesizing about a Soviet first strike aren't wholly irrational. (There was certainly a fair amount of fear among NATO that the no-use-first policy was just PR, certainly, regardless of how justified said fear was.)
8th Dec '16 5:49:28 AM jgkitarel
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*** And even so, it's by-and-large suspected that every North Korean nuclear weapon tested to date has been a fizzle (nuclear weapons parlance for a '''dud''')

to:

*** And even so, it's by-and-large suspected that every North Korean nuclear weapon tested to date has been a fizzle (nuclear weapons parlance for a '''dud''')'''dud''')[[note]]It should be noted that a fizzle just means that the nuke didn't reach the expected yield, ''not'' that it didn't detonate at all. A fizzle can still yield a blast measured in kilotons, with the largest fizzle, a failure of a fusion secondary during a 1 megaton nuke test, reaching an estimated 250 kilotons. Considering that it still means partial fusion was reached, the test was considered a partial success.[[/note]]
2nd Oct '16 10:09:20 AM Bissek
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* "99 Luftballons". The titular balloons show up as unidentified blips on a radar screen, so one side sends fighter jets to investigate. The other side takes this as an attack and retaliates with the nukes.

to:

* "99 Luftballons". The titular balloons show up as unidentified blips on a radar screen, so one side sends fighter jets to investigate. The other side takes this as an attack and retaliates with the nukes. Fortunately for the world, a hundred ordinary toyshop balloons would not have a large enough return to show up on a radar screen IRL.
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.ANuclearError