Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

On misinformation, the rise of a Cuban mystery

I saw a story come to light quietly a few weeks ago, and note that it has come to a head today as:

US reveals details of recent ‘sonic attack’ on Cuba diplomats

I found the suggestion that this, if it is real, is classed as a ‘sonic attack’ on the diplomats… interesting.

I’ve read of claims that the Nazis, in their growth years before World War II, would roll up with lorries at meetings being held by their opponents. The lorries were said to contain powerful amplifiers and large loudspeakers, fed with inaudible low-frequency signals of only a few hertz. These low-frequency sound waves were supposed to induce various feeling of illness, unease, sickness, panic, and other maladies which would disrupt the meetings and make them unpopular.

But, from modern analysis of the claims, it seems that this was propaganda, and that there is no genuine scientific basis for the claims made.

Also, the same (or similar) frequency is claimed to be the magical ‘brown frequency’, allegedly able to cause the target’s bowels to open uncontrollably when they are targeted.

Sadly, when the Mythbusters’ team donned nappies and set up a test range, with huge amplifiers and loudspeakers, they failed to find any effect despite trying a range of frequencies and power levels.

This makes the claim of a Cuban ‘sonic attack’ hard to believe, unless they have added ‘magic’.

Incidentally, I’m well aware of various acoustic weapons and deterrents, but having seen the demo videos, none of these seem to be covert, and are very obvious when in use, being both seen and heard.

If the claims of affected diplomats are true, and not just a manufactured political excuse to start some tit-for-tat actions by the Orange Moron, then there could be something far more serious taking place.

I only have fictional accounts, but on the other hand, there is not doubt that exposure to both ionising and no-ionising radiation at excessive levels is potentially harmful. Don’t forget Litvinenko and death by polonium.

I’ve been involved with NDT (non-destructive testing) at times, and even the smallest portable kit comes with dire warnings, demands for shielding to keep people nearby safe, while the largest X-Ray source I worked on needed a room with two 5-ton lead-lined doors and a concrete refuge maze to run and take cover in if you were in the room and the source was somehow activated. Similarly, if you get anywhere near microwave radar transmitters, they are festooned with warnings not to be anywhere near them when they are operating.

I hate to oversimplify and say it’s easy to make X-Rays, but in principle it’s not hard…

X-Ray basics

X-Ray basics

And the portable NDT kit is… portable!

I haven’t touched it for years though, and forget how far we had to make sure there were no actual people that might have been in the beam path.

Portable X-Ray Test

Portable X-Ray Test

Crumpled TV detective Columbo solved one case where people were mysteriously falling in and dying after noting plants in an office were dying too, eventually finding the killer was setting up a portable NDT X-Ray transmitter outside the office.

Even before that, old-time radio criminologist Lamont Cranston, known as ‘The Shadow’, was faced with an apparently genuine Pharaoh’s Curse. Explorers who entered a tomb and dared look at the mummy would collapse and die moments later. He found that the killer had placed an X-Ray generator behind the mummy’s head, and activated it when anyone gazed on the pharaoh, blasting them with X-Rays from only a few centimetres from their head.

As for RF or microwave attacks, two or three beams could be aimed at, and crossed, on a building, and produce hazardous levels when combined.

While the reality (as opposed to the purely fictional cases noted) is probably that the levels involved would not result in instant death, but odd symptoms and illness. Even the worst cases of nuclear irradiation do not kill instantly (try looking up the ‘Demon Core’ for details), but take days to cause a horrible lingering death as the body’s systems fail. Even battlefield radiation doses are cruel, producing victims referred to as ‘walking dead’ or ‘ghosts’. After an initial period of feeling ill, such victims appear to return to health after a few days – but the damage has been done, and their bodies are merely in the initial phase of shutting down, and after appearing to recover, are actually incurably injured, and will die.

I don’t suppose there will ever be an honest reveal. The US will not provide evidence, just claims, while the Cubans will deny all accusations.

I really only mention it since we really are back to the games enjoyed back in the days of the Cold War.

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September 29, 2017 Posted by | Cold War | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stanislav Petrov died back in May 2017 – but who cares?

It’s at least six years since I first wrote about Stanislav Petrov (elsewhere, not in here), and I simply have no idea how long I knew about him before I decided to share. (I might add I was always interested in lesser known Cold War history, having lived through it).

In death, he’s probably become more well-known than in life, as I see all the media outlets have now run some sort of story about his passing… when the new eventually filtered down IN SEPTEMBER!

As in his life, his death was largely ignored (I hesitate to use the word ‘suppressed’ – it would be closer to the truth to say that there was just no recognition, or sharing), and it was only due the interest of others that anything ever got to be known of Petrov.

I won’t repeat the story of the events that took place, most of the recent media articles have done that, I’ll merely summarise by noting that when the Soviet-era nuclear warning system signalled an incoming attack from the West, Petrov was smart enough to reason that it was a false alarm and did pass on the alert, thereby preventing a nuclear response – which would probably have been the start of World War III.

Stanislav Petrov, who averted possible nuclear war, dies at 77

Petrov was suitably rewarded for his alertness, and given a reprimand for not following orders and signalling the attack to his superiors, demoted, generally forgotten and passed over, and eventually retired to live out the rest of  his life in a small flat on a small pension.

While the Soviets preferred to brush him under the ‘Red Carpet’, the rest of the world eventually came to hear of his action on that day, and he collected a number of awards in later years.

I don’t think any of the media mentioned the web site dedicated to Stanislav Petrov, his response on the day, or the various awards he later received, so I suggest having a look here, rather than at the rest of the media:

Stanislav Petrov web site

Stanislav Petrov web site

At least there was a man in the system

While Petrov’s story may alarm some, we can at least take some comfort from it not being the tale of a ‘Fail-deadly’ system.

For that, we have to look at the Soviet ‘Judgement Day‘ machine – a system called ‘Perimeter‘.

In the West it was called ‘Dead Hand‘ because the missiles could be launched to destroy the potential enemy even if all its personnel were dead.

It was a computer complex that could analyse the situation and once it detected a nuclear attack it would automatically launch a command missile that would fly over the territory of the USSR and unblock nuclear warheads on the ground, at sea, and in the air. The Secretary-General could launch the system and divest himself of responsibility for the counterstrike.

It was designed to lie semi-dormant until switched on by a high official in a crisis. Then it would begin monitoring a network of seismic, radiation, and air pressure sensors for signs of nuclear explosions. Before launching any retaliatory strike, the system had to check off four if/then propositions: If it was turned on, then it would try to determine that a nuclear weapon had hit Soviet soil. If it seemed that one had, the system would check to see if any communication links to the war room of the Soviet General Staff remained. If they did, and if some amount of time—likely ranging from 15 minutes to an hour—passed without further indications of attack, the machine would assume officials were still living who could order the counter-attack and shut down. But if the line to the General Staff went dead, then Perimeter would infer that apocalypse had arrived. It would immediately transfer launch authority to whoever was manning the system at that moment deep inside a protected bunker—bypassing layers and layers of normal command authority.

It basically meant that all life would be destroyed on earth automatically. It was the main deterrent for other countries preventing them from attacking the USSR.

This Russian language blog entry features the only Judgement Day machine working until 1995, and it had been in place since 1983.

Заброшенный ядерный бункер – Emil

The ‘good’ news is that I’ve been following many Russian bloggers over the years since the Cold War was considered to have been ended, and from their visits and pics know that most of these places have been abandoned and lie derelict, most often smashed and stripped by scavengers and metal thieves who have left little behind.

But…

Some of those bloggers have also visited such sites and found the silos and doors securely locked and bolted, with power still present, and the sound of humming machinery coming from behind those doors. They’re also fitted with modern alarm sensors, and have barracks nearby, and security forces arrive if any sensors are tripped or attempts are made to open those doors. Those same bloggers flee the moment they think they may have been detected, and watch the arrival of security forces from a very safe distance.

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Cold War, military | , , , , | Leave a comment

Barnton Quarry may open to the public in 2019

A favourite of those with an interest in the history of the Cold War (and Edinburgh’s vandals), the bunker located in Barnton Quarry is moving closer to completion of its restoration and refurbishment, with a broad date of 2019 being given as its opening date as an attraction.

There may, of course, have been stories we’ve missed, but the last time we spotted something newsworthy was back in 2013: Barnton Quarry bunker to be developed as partner to Scotland’s Secret Bunker at Anstruther.

We won’t go over the story again, you can read this article about the bunker’s history.

An article published by The Scotsman in July 2017 repeated the story, adding that the bunker is expected to open to the public in 2019.

Edinburgh’s secret nuclear bunker prepares to open its doors

There’s possibly a bit of ‘journalistic leeway’ in The Scotsman’s use of ‘prepares to open its doors’, which might tend to suggest someone is about to open them in a few days, or maybe weeks – but TWO YEARS is perhaps stretching this use of the description.

Barnton Quarry

Barnton Quarry – Courtesy of Subterranea Britannica

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Cold War, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Dolly bird Barbie was a spy who even had her own little Enigma machine

I chanced across this little gem about Barbie and her typewriter, and thought was something that was probably little known, and worth sharing with those who like secrets.

Barbie was first given a purely mechanical typewriter, but was later upgraded to an electronic version manufactured in Slovenia (by Methano) and supplied by Mattel. But the E-118 (preceded by the E-115, E-116, and E-117) had a secret, a built-in cryptographic capability which allowed secret messages to be encrypted and decrypted, and used an alphabetic substitution cipher.

All used a simple daisy wheel printer made of plastic parts, with two solenoids and a motor. A small PCB contained the electronic at the centre of the unit, with a microcontroller bonded directly to the PCB to save money. Although this was redesigned over time, the crypto feature seems to be common to all.

There were actually 4 built-in cipher modes, each activated by entering a special key sequence on the keyboard, explained only in the original documentation. Access was by pressing SHIFT and LOCK in combination with specific keys. While keyboard layouts vary between countries, and therefore the characters on the keys, the physical position or location of the keys on the keyboard which needed to be pressed did not change.

In use, the user simply activates one of the 4 secret modes, types in their message, and the encrypted message is printed on the paper.

To decode the message, the recipient activates the corresponding decoding mode, and when they type in the encrypted message as received, the plain text message should be printed on the paper.

The encryption method is a simple character substitution, where a given character is always replaced by the same substitute character from a table. The 4 modes are provided through the inclusion of 4 different substitution tables within the typewriter’s programming.

A number of different versions of these typewriters were made, so it could be sold worldwide.  English, German and French keyboard layouts are known. It seems that text written on the French version cannot be decoded on a British version suggestion different versions are not compatible. Perhaps they use different sets of substitution tables.

For more details and examples of this intriguing toy, see the entry at:

Crypto Museum

Below is an E-117 (found on Pinterest, with no attribution).

Barbie E-117 encrypted typewriter

Barbie E-117 encrypted typewriter

My apologies to those who appreciate the difference between encoding and encryption.

While I try to make the distinction, when working from source material that uses the terms interchangeably, it simply takes too long to revise everything and correct it while keeping things consistent.

At its simplest:

  • encoding only requires an algorithm, and is typically done to allow data transmission
  • encryption requires an algorithm and a key, and is done for privacy

While both may make a message unreadable, the former can be recovered as the method will be public, so there is no secrecy.

The latter can only be recovered by the holder of the key.

The difference probably doesn’t matter to anyone not involved, and can be traced back to things like references to the codebreakers of places such as Bletchley Park, when such distinctions were not made.

March 1, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, World War II | , , , , | Leave a comment

The last Vulcan display at Prestwick also had a hint of drama

I couldn’t make it to the display at Ayr, but it seems the real action took place at Prestwick, as I just learnt from this video I spotted.

The following description of events is quoted from the video owner:

On the 5th of September I went across to Prestwick to watch the Scottish Airshow 2015. Primarily I wanted to see the Vulcan one last time before she’s retired in the next month or so.
Having arrived at the airport we waited for the Vulcan XH558 with great anticipation.
Once we saw him over Ayr my excitement grew even more.
He called up Prestwick tower to do a flyover the airfield , then make a right hand turn to then land on runway 30.
However after he made that turn things seemed to go wrong. Rather than report final he then did a second flyover , and started entering orbits to the north of the airfield.
After it became clear he was having a nosewheel gear issue , a Spitfire of the BBMF called up and asked if there was anyway he could help by giving the vulcan an inspection from underneath the aircraft.
Once they had determined the Vulcans speed the spitfire confirmed that his nosewheel was not extended fully and that there was nothing blocking it from locking into place.
Following this the Vulcan entered into some very aggressive yawing , both left and right in an attempt to free whatever was holding the nosewheel back from extending and locking.
After some time they were successful and initiated a landing.
We were all waiting with bated breath, not knowing whether or not it had indeed fully locked into place.
Thankfully the landing went well, and as you can hear at the end of the video was great relief that everything had gone so well.
Praise must also go to the Spitfire pilot for taking the initiative in helping the crew of the Vulcan resolve the issue.

That brings back memories of the Prestwick Air Show (at the airport then) which had the drama of a World War II aircraft suffering a similar stuck undercarriage, which refused to be bumped loose, and eventually had to be ditched and lost in the sea off Turnberry, which was chosen as the beat way to ensure no other damage, and safe recovery of the pilot.

Thank goodness the Vulcan trip to Scotland did not end in similar fashion – although I suspect they might have ultimately dumped fuel and done a belly landing with the larger aircraft. This is the procedure I’ve seen in the past, on American aircraft of the same size in recent years.

It seems the crew would have been aware of the problem before arriving back at the airport.

Looking at this recording of the full display, it includes views of the usual lowering and raising of the undercarriage for some of the passes, and while I can’t be categoric of the full sequence having been captured, it is clear that the nosewheel is not fully forward in any of the shots:

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War, military | , , | 2 Comments

2015 Prestwick air show will be last chance to see the Vulcan fly

Britain’s last remaining flying V bomber, the Avro Vulcan, will be making it’s farewell visit to Scotland at the 2015 Scottish Airshow on 5th and 6th September.

As seen last year (2014):

For those not aware, XH558 returned to the air a few years ago, but was always on borrowed time as its components were nearing the end of their rated lives, and once reached, there were no new parts or spares left that would be airworthy, so the aircraft’s flying days were always numbered.

September 5th and 6th really are the last days to ever see this aircraft in Scottish skies.

The organisers of the Scottish Airshow have secured this unique aircraft and it will fly at beach front Ayr on Saturday 5th September then land at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. It will be the highlight of the Sunday Aircraft Exhibition where members of the public will be able to see it for one last time and even get up close to take photographs or talk to the flight crew.

Check here for any updates or changes closer to the event:

Scottish Airshow – Prestwick/Ayr 5th & 6th September 2015 | The Scottish Airshow – Prestwick International Airport

See also the Vulcan’s own web site for other opportunities if you are travelling around the country:

Displays / Tours – Vulcan To The Sky

Click on the image below to see a gallery of Vulcan images from over the years, assembled by those nice people at Gizmodo:

Vulcan Farewell

Vulcan Farewell from Gizmodo

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War | , , , | Leave a comment

VHS versus Communism in Cold War Romania

One of those ‘gem’ stories from the days of the Cold War.

VHS vs. Communism

(Sorry, looks like WordPress doesn’t like embedding this video.)

Closest I ever got to anything remotely like this (and I’m not saying these were in way the same, just happening at the same time) was listening to the short-wave broadcasts from Radio Moscow (aimed at America), where they would ‘answer’ questions posted to the station, usually dispelling myths that the writers had of life in the USSR.

Had I been a bit older, I might have been smart enough to record some of those, just for the fun of being able to quote from them years later.

However, I seem to recall the ‘voice’ often began its answers with “Well, it’s really much the same here as in America” – but then again, they did get to pick and choose which questions they answered… and which they never.

Back then, I’d have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about Romania. In fact, growing up during the Cold War, I didn’t really think much about global thermonuclear war.

During the 1980s in Communist Romania, a young translator became an unlikely voice of freedom, illicitly dubbing thousands of foreign films distributed on VHS tapes, turning B-movie stars into heroes.

Via ‘VHS vs. Communism’ – NYTimes.com

All the dialogue on these movies was dubbed into Romanian in a husky, high-pitched woman’s voice. Throughout my childhood, these films provided a glimpse into the forbidden West, resplendent with blue jeans, Coke and skyscrapers. As Hollywood movies became ubiquitous through the black market, this voice became one of the most recognizable in Romania. Yet no one knew who she was.

After the 1989 revolution I learned the true story, which I present here in this Op-Doc video. In 1985, Irina Margareta Nistor, a young translator at the national television station, met a mysterious entrepreneur. He was smuggling, copying and distributing movies on VHS tapes. This was the beginning of a working relationship that lasted more than a decade. In all, Ms. Nistor says she dubbed more than 3,000 different films. Thanks to her, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee became popular heroes in Romania.

In a time when the Romanian state controlled every aspect of its citizens’ lives — including food, heat, transportation and information — people found a way to escape and resist the state’s far-reaching hand, through the power of movies.

By Ilinca Calugareanu, a London-based Romanian documentary filmmaker.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Cold War | , | Leave a comment

Last Nimrod named after the Duke of Edinburgh

After following the demise of the Nimrod replacement project, and then the withdrawal of the last operational Nimrod aircraft from their base in the north of Scotland, I thought all had been scrapped or disposed of in some less than desirable way.

I was, therefore, pleased to read that the last surviving Nimrod aircraft from RAF Kinloss – saved from the scrapheap after the fleet was withdrawn from service – had been formally named ‘Duke of Edinburgh’.

The XV244, which had flown out of the Scottish base since 1970 before the reconnaissance planes were disbanded in 2010, was purchased by a charitable organisation called Morayvia, set up to establish an aerospace centre in the north of Scotland.

A naming ceremony was hosted at Kinloss Barracks today and will now preserve a Royal connection to Moray’s aviation history.

Prince Philip, a supporter of a Scottish aviation museum, agreed to allow his name and heraldic standard to be displayed on the aircraft that Morayvia hopes will become the showpiece attraction in a future visitor centre.

The XV24 has a long and distinguished flying career, entering service with the RAF on November 6, 1970, as the eighth Nimrod to be delivered to the base. It was involved in numerous rescue operations, including the Piper Alpha disaster, and flew thousands of hours during its service.

Morayvia formed in July 2011 to save the last Nimrod in Moray from being scrapped when the Kinloss base was shut by the Ministry of Defence in 2010.

Granted charitable status by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator in January 2012, the group

purchased XV244 from the Disposal Servces Agency in February.

Funds were raised from donations made by BAE Systems, Thales, Ultra, Rolls-Royce, and The Maritime Air Trust, as well as from individual Morayvia members.

The group also secured the front 40ft of Nimrod XV240, the former gate guardian, with a view to it forming a mobile exhibit to generate interest and income for its centre.

In 2013, the group were loaned 2 further cockpits, a Jet Provost T4 and Vampire T11, also on trailers and again attended a number of events to raise funds and awareness, venturing as far afield as RAF Waddington.

Via Last RAF Kinloss Nimrod named ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ – The Scotsman

The Nimrod was Britain’s maritime reconnaissance aircraft for some 40 years, but the aircraft flew for the last time almost four years ago, then plans to replace the type were scrapped under the UK Government’s strategic defence review, as were the aircraft being developed.

The Morayvia project is now hoping XV244 will take pride of place in its plans for a museum of flight in Moray. A temporary site has been leased from the council on the grounds of an old school, but the groups aim to secure a permanent site.

Morayvia charity given royal seal of approval in Nimrod ceremony | Aberdeen & North | News | STV

See also:

Homepage | morayvia.org.uk – Moray’s Aerospace Experience

I had a hunt for a royalty/copyright free image of the original, but came up empty, so this is an MR2 captured at Duxford in 2004. I have a liking for aircraft with their engines hidden in the wing root (as opposed to the more convenient pylon), and this version has more attractive inlets than the later MR4 variant, being elliptical rather than round.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War, military, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Inverbervie Cold War Radar Station up for sale again

Last placed on the market back in 2010, Inverbervie CEW Radar Station is up for sale again.

Few details are given in the news stories relating to the offer, and when we checked the agent’s web site and searched it for details, the property was not listed – in fact, it only came up with one house for sale when we asked it for all properties in Scotland with no other criteria.

Back in 2010, offers over £250,000 were being sought.

Our summary notes:

In 1953, a Centimetric Early Warning (CEW) radar station was built on the headland. Five radar systems were installed to provided coverage of the North Sea and north coast of Scotland, and give advance warning of the approach of any potential threats.

In 1968, the station was taken over by the US Navy, and operated in conjunction with the major monitoring station based at RAF Edzell, a little over 10 miles to the west. Edzell closed in 1977, followed by Inverbervie in 1978.

The facility lay unused for the next six years, until 1984, when it was designated Reserve Headquarters for Group Headquarters and Sector Control at Craigiebarns, Dundee.

The station was finally closed and withdrawn from service in 1993.

The bunker lay unused for a further six years, purchased by the current (2007) owner in 1999.

Information recorded by RCAHMS identifies aerial photographs of the location dating from 1954, 1957, 1967, and 1973, all of which show a small T shaped building on the headland, set within an area if approximately 40 m x 20 m, assumed to be the roof of an underground structure, with related structures nearby. The underground structure is further described as lying beneath what appears to be a cottage, but is actually part of the structure’s domestic infrastructure, such as water tanks. The entrance to the underground facility is reported to be protected by a blast door, with the interior provided with artificial lighting and ventilation. While being locally rumoured to date from the 1930s, the installation is recorded as having been built in 1952, with further work carried out in the 1960s when the mezzanine floor was added.

More details and some interior shots can be found on our Wiki page.

Inverbervie CEW Guardhouse

Inverbervie CEW Guardhouse 2001 © Nick Catford

As always, our thanks to Subterranea Britannica for permission to reproduce their material.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Cold War, military | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Barnton Quarry bunker to be developed as partner to Scotland’s Secret Bunker at Anstruther

It’s been a little while since I spotted the last news about developments at Barnton Quarry, and I held off mentioning the story in case there might be more given away in the media, but after a couple of items, there doesn’t seem to have been anything to add.

The bunker at Barnton was acquired by the owner of Scotland’s Secret Bunker way back in 2005, but due to the condition of the interior, and the money needed to clean it out and restore it, little happened until 2009, when a survey was carried out.

This was a sad story, as the bunker had been broken into on a number of occasions, used and abused by ravers, and then be devastated by fires, first in August 1991, and then again in May 1993. It’s pathetic to think that those who did the damage were so easily amused, and had nothing better to do to fulfil their sad lives than spray ‘tags’ on any available surface. Same behaviour as dogs peeing on lampposts and walls to mark their territory.

The most dangerous aspect of this had been the amount of asbestos liberated into the air, meaning that access became so hazardous even the vandal had decided to give the place a wide berth.

Fast forward to the start of 2013, and in February The Scotsman carried a lengthy article on the bunker at Barnton: Queen’s Edinburgh nuclear bunker to open as museum – Latest news – Scotsman.com, describing its past, and revealing the plans to open the site as a museum, similar to Scotland’s Secret Bunker at Troywood near Anstruther on the Fife coast.

Missing from this account was any indication of when the new attraction might open its doors.

This arrived in April, when STV carried a much shorter story about the bunker: Edinburgh underground bunker to be opened up to visitors | News | Edinburgh | STV, but added the important detail of a 3-year plan for completion of the new project, meaning that we could see this attraction open in 2016.

Probably the most intriguing point about this is the point made by the chap behind the project, as it is one of the closest facilities of the type to any sort of population centre, making it a little easier to get to, and enjoy a visit.

Assuming they manage to get it looking as good as Troywood, and they will have to collect a load of equipment to get it refurbished and looking remotely original, then it will be a great day out.

A visit to the bunker at Anstruther can easily eat up a day, especially if the whole bunker is explored in detail, and all the films on offer in the small theatre are viewed.

You can read, and see, more of the bunker (and others) in Nick Catford’s book Subterranean Britain: Cold War Bunkers which was also featured by The Scotsman a couple of years ago: Barnton bunker a hot spot in the Cold War – News – Scotsman.com

May 11, 2013 Posted by | Cold War | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Retired Soviet officer belated rewards for averting nuclear war

I have mentioned Stanislav Petrov before, and if you do not know who he is, you should, and be grateful he was ever born.

If you thought the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962 was worrying, then think again.

1983 was a lot more worrying – and a lot less publicised, until a further ten years had passed, and the collapse of the Soviet Union allowed the record to become available in 1993.

See some background reading here: Dead Hand the Soviet Union Doomsday Machine toured – SeSco

For decades, men in bunkers watched their screens and warning lights every hour of every day, waiting for the Cold War to go nuclear.

This was the situation just after midnight on September 26th, 1983.

Stanislav Petrov was the Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the Soviet Union’s early warning radar system in a bunker near Moscow.

Then it happened.

“When I first saw the alert message, I got up from my chair. All my subordinates were confused, so I started shouting orders at them to avoid panic. I knew my decision would have a lot of consequences,” Petrov recalls.

The radar was showing a single missile inbound from the United States.

Now the race was on: was it real or a computer error? His boss accepted over the phone it was a likely fault. But as soon as he hung up…

“The siren went off for a second time. Giant blood-red letters appeared on our main screen, saying START. It said that four more missiles had been launched,” Petrov continues.

To Petrov, it did not add up. Any attack by the US would have been all-out to try and cripple a Soviet response. But if they were real, he had only 30 minutes to tell his superiors before the warheads hit.

“My cozy armchair felt like a red hot frying pan and my legs went limp. I felt like I couldn’t even stand up. That’s how nervous I was when I was taking this decision,” Petrov says.

Petrov stuck to his decision, broke a Soviet military rule by not telling his superiors, and was proved right. There were no missiles.

He never had the authority to press the button himself, but how close had the world come to nuclear war?

“At that time it seemed that our country was surrounded by enemies, but was strong enough to retaliate. The Soviet Union and the USA were too strong, and our countries had too many conflicts of interest in various parts of the world,” military analyst Vladimir Evseev says.

Another day the world almost ended — RT

He has received little recognition or reward – he might even have been ‘disappeared’ for not following orders without question.

His superiors were not happy about his failure to follow procedure, and unquestioningly forward the information from the launch detectors.

Stanislav Petrov Averts a Worldwide Nuclear War – Bright Star Sound

Now, in February 2012:

Most people become heroes for doing things. Stanislav Petrov became one through having the courage to do nothing – in the face of a potential nuclear threat.

­The retired Russian Lieutenant Colonel has picked up a major humanitarian accolade, the German Media Prize, for preventing possible catastrophic all-out conflict. The previous recipients of the award include Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, and the Dalai Lama.

Retired Soviet officer rewarded for averting nuclear war — RT

February 27, 2012 Posted by | Cold War | , , , | Leave a comment

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