History Main / ANuclearError

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.

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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 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.


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*** 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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** 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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** 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''')

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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''')'''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.

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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. Fortunately for the world, a hundred ordinary toyshop balloons would not have a large enough return to show up on a radar screen IRL.
19th Sep '16 6:31:05 PM Aquillion
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** Another, probably more correct explanation is that Soviets expected USA to hit big targets (i.e. cities) and wanted military facilities to survive, not the civilian population.
25th Aug '16 6:28:56 AM jamespolk
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The main topic of 1962 animated short "WesternAnimation/TheHole". Two construction workers debate the danger of an accidental nuclear war. The more skeptical one suggests that science and technology are fallible and could lead to a nuclear holocaust. The animation shows a rat chewing through the power lines at an early warning missile radar station.
[[/folder]]
6th Aug '16 8:55:16 AM migmit
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Added DiffLines:

** Another, probably more correct explanation is that Soviets expected USA to hit big targets (i.e. cities) and wanted military facilities to survive, not the civilian population.
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