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The Man Who Literally Saved the World 796

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the close-calls dept.
99luftballon writes "Today is an important anniversary for Russian hero Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet missile commander who saved the world from nuclear destruction in 1983. Sadly there are plenty of other examples of this kind of thing. How long will we keep getting lucky?"
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The Man Who Literally Saved the World

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:49PM (#16208263)
    June, 1983 - American teenager David Lightman hacks into NORAD's WOPR computer and begins playing a game of Global Thermonuclear War. WOPR however doesn't believe it to be a game, and begins preparations for missile launch. Fortunately, with the help of WOPR's creator Stephen Falken, they were able to have the computer play itself at Tic-Tac-Toe. As a result of this win-less battle, WOPR learns the only winning move is not to play.
    • by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @09:11PM (#16209077)
      As a result of this win-less battle, WOPR learns the only winning move is not to play
      The next day the Soviets launch, and WOPR sat back and watched secure in the knowledge he had gained from tic-tac-toe
      • by megaditto (982598) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @09:42PM (#16209373)
        You failed to get the point. A 'surprise' massive launch by the Soviets would bring up enough ash to the stratosphere to cover the entire Earth... to cause the infamous 'nuclear winter' for long enough to wipe out over 50% of their own population in weeks from cold and starvation, and the rest in a few months after they had a good chance to take up the cobalt and other radioisotopes. Launching 'just a few' against a nuclear enemy will get the enemy to lob a few right back, escalating to the same result.

        To put it in terms you would understand, launching a unilateral all-out nuclear strike would be like shooting your sister in the head with a M20A1B1 while she fellated you, and hoping to walk away unscarred.
        • by monoqlith (610041) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @09:58PM (#16209533)
          That analogy is completely inaccurate. In that scenario, you would lose at most an important piece of yourself.

            And your sister.

          On the other hand, Google guns+sister+erotic+asphyxiation+cliff+diving if you would like a better picture of what kind of shooting-your-sister-in-the-head scenario a nuclear war would really be like.

          I'm not sure how many hits that will turn up, but I'm guessing it will be enough to give you an idea of what launching nuclear missiles at foreign countries will do for you.

          Really, I'm not sure.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by toadlife (301863)
          I believe the nuclear winter scnenario as you describe it has long been disproven.

          Here are some links...

          http://www.fortfreedom.org/s05.htm [fortfreedom.org]

          http://www.oism.org/nwss/s73p912.htm [oism.org]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Capsaicin (412918)

            I believe the nuclear winter scnenario as you describe it has long been disproven.

            If it has neither of the references you provide demonstrate that fact. They are not to peer reviewed articles in scholarly scientific journals, not do they even reference such articles. Instead both are right-wing extremist propaganda sites which deal exclusively in disinformation.

            Please note, this does not mean that I personally accept nor endorse the nuclear winter scenario. My point rather, is that you would be more

    • by saboola (655522) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @09:20PM (#16209183)
      Everytime they would say WOPR in War Games I would say "with cheese". It was possibly the funniest joke ever made, at least to my five year old self.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:49PM (#16208269) Journal
    Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

    I'm sure there are other countries with nuclear weapons. The current count on nuclear weapons from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] comes to:
    The former chair of the United Nations disarmament committee states there are more than 16,000 strategic and tactical nuclear weapons ready for deployment and another 14,000 in storage. The U.S. has nearly 7,000 ready for action and 3,000 in storage and Russia has about 8,500 on hand and 11,000 in storage, he said. China has 400 nuclear weapons, France 350, Britain 200, Israel 200, India 95 and Pakistan 50. NATO has stationed 480 U.S. nuclear weapons in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Turkey, with several other countries in pursuit of an arsenal of their own (1).
    Frankly, the India/Pakistan development of a nuclear arsenol worries me more than what happened historically between the U.S. & Russia. And don't even get me started on chemical and biological weapons.
    • by GeorgeMcBay (106610) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:03PM (#16208427)
      Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

      Uh... because those were the only two countries that had more than enough ICBMs to actually result in a global world-ending nuclear war.
      • Uh... because those were the only two countries that had more than enough ICBMs to actually result in a global world-ending nuclear war.
        Huh? What about China?
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:06PM (#16208449) Homepage Journal
      ``Frankly, the India/Pakistan development of a nuclear arsenol worries me more than what happened historically between the U.S. & Russia.''

      What worries me is that, at some point, the Russian government wasn't able to pay all it's employees' wages. What does that say about a rich and determined party being able to acquire some of the stored weapons? Even if such a scenario is highly unlikely, I'm still more worried about that than about what a state with citizens and territory might do with nuclear weapons.
    • Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

      Because the vast majority of weapons belong to those 2 countries? Because those 2 countries have been engaged in a cold war (sometimes called WW3 by some analysts) practically since the end of WW2?

      To be more worried about India/Pakistan I find a strange postion to take. Obviously the real worry should be attached to the owners of the largest arsenals as these are the countries that
    • by El Torico (732160) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:25PM (#16208627)
      ...why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

      Here's number 21 - Pakistan and India were both considering using nuclear weapons during the Kargil conflict of 1999. Fortunately, the United States persuaded Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan to order a withdrawal.

      Here's the Wikipedia article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kargil_War [wikipedia.org]

    • by Ucklak (755284) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:30PM (#16208685)
      Wow. The babysitter I hire for my kids was born in 1992.

      Between you, she, and a host of the current MTV generation, you guys have no concept of:

      The significance of the Berlin Wall [wikipedia.org] - you used to be able to buy pieces of it when you were in grade school.
      Life before the internet.
      Life without cell phones.
      A time when you couldn't buy telephones in the store - they had to be leased from the Bells and from their stores.
      61 cents a minute to a town 90 miles away was the normal fee for intrastate long distance.
      Life before VCRs; and yeah, the Wizard of OZ was on every Easter and that was your only chance to see it.
      There was a smoking section in airplanes and the ashtrays in the arm rests used to open.
      A time before the Space Shuttle.
      A time when rocket trips to the moon were current events. My 6th birthday had the Apollo capsule on the cake.
      A time before Star Wars.
      A time when your local TV weatherman hosted a kids show on their station. It's kind of against regulations now.

      And as far as I matter, Cuba has always been shut off to the US. I eagerly await the day when travel from the US will be allowed.

      • A time when you couldn't buy telephones in the store - they had to be leased from the Bells and from their stores.

        Oh and they knew if you got a black market phone and hooked it up too. My father worked for AT&T for >20 years and tells of stories where the company would detect unauthorized phones, and they'd go and confiscate them. His favorite story involved a family: The mother answered the door, he explained they'd detected a problem and wanted to check out their lines, so she asked him to wait.

      • My 6th birthday had the Apollo capsule on the cake.

        Mine had a deep breath for having made it through the Cuban Missle Crisis.

        Kids these days, they don't know how to sing, "Duck; and cover, Duck; and cover. . ."

        I don't know what the hell they were thinking with that one. Even as a five year old I knew that my jacket wasn't going to do squat against an A-bomb. I suspected already that grownups were nuts, but that idea confirmed it for me. I've yet to see anything to disuade me from the notion. If anything the
      • How about Apollo 11 and 13
        or Apollo 1
        or a first time TV (large Black and White)?
        Or How about a time when you had drills to head under the desks to avoid nuclear bombs (yeah, right)?
        Or how about the day that Kennedy was shot?
        Or how about remembering the a Cuban Missle crisis (from the perspective of describing some house hold situation only to be told that it was the crisis and your father sat on a runway in Kentucky a B-47 with a very nuke aimed for one-way trip to the USSR)?


        Time marches on. I have a
    • by stefanlasiewski (63134) <slashdot AT stefanco DOT com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:37PM (#16208747) Homepage Journal
      Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

      You're misrepresenting this a little bit. That article [nuclearfiles.org] is specifically discussing incidents between the US & the Soviet Union/Russia.

      The US and Soviet Union are the only two countries which had enough nuclear power to destroy the world, following the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.

      Frankly, the India/Pakistan development of a nuclear arsenol worries me more than what happened historically between the U.S. & Russia.

      Combined, the US and the Soviet Union had 60,000 [wikipedia.org] nuclear weapons-- enough to destroy the entire world a dozen times over.

      India & Pakistan will never be allowed to develop an arsenal of that magnitude. Compare the size of the arsenals [nuclearfiles.org] today.

      I think you are correct to fear nuclear proliferation in India & Pakistan, as I think they are more likely to use the weapons. However, the world will not end if India & Pakistan use their weapons. We will suffer, but the world would not end.
      • The US and Soviet Union are the only two countries which had enough nuclear power to destroy the world

        They weren't capable of destroying the world, or even human civilization. They were only capable of destroying civilization in the *First World*. That isn't even remotely the same as 'destroying the world'. While it probably would've sucked to be in the northern hemisphere for a few years, by all accounts the southern hemisphere would've been relatively unaffected (other than losing their trading partner
  • by Heir Of The Mess (939658) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:51PM (#16208297) Homepage
    If the same thing had happened now do you think people in other countries trust America enough that they would be confident that America hadn't launched a pre-emptive nuclear strike?
    • MAD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:09PM (#16208481) Homepage Journal
      I think what kept the USA and the USSR from fighting more openly was mutually assured destruction. I also think Iraq has been invaded and North Korea hasn't been yet is due to North Korea having claimed to posses nuclear weapons and Iraq denying the same.
      • Re:MAD (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:16PM (#16208557)
        North Korea doesn't need nuclear missiles. It has regular short-range missiles that can easily reach Seoul, and enough to completely destroy the city if they were attacked. That's just as good as having a nuke, for all practical purposes, and it's a huge deterrant against pissing them off.

        (Note: Of course, they'd lose the resulting war, no question about it. But in the first hour of the war, they could litterally kill millions of civilians.)
      • Re:MAD (Score:4, Interesting)

        by flooey (695860) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:50PM (#16208863)
        I also think Iraq has been invaded and North Korea hasn't been yet is due to North Korea having claimed to posses nuclear weapons and Iraq denying the same.

        It's much more that the North Korea/South Korea border is the most heavily militarized location in the world. The US estimated that if we were to invade North Korea, there would be more than 50,000 casualties in the first three months of fighting.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drsmithy (35869)
        I think what kept the USA and the USSR from fighting more openly was mutually assured destruction. I also think Iraq has been invaded and North Korea hasn't been yet is due to North Korea having claimed to posses nuclear weapons and Iraq denying the same.

        It's got nothing to do with North Korea's supposed possession of nuclear weapons. It's got to do with:

        * A complete and utter lack of anything interesting in North Korea worth fighting over

        * All the short range weapons North Korea has aimed at South Kore

    • by dan828 (753380) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:11PM (#16208503)
      Don't be daft. The Russians didn't trust the US in 1983 at all. They'd just told their operatives to expect a nuclear war after they'd shot down a civilian airliner and their strategic nuclear forces where on high alert. Petrov noticed that the patern of missile launches were not what would be expect in a preempive strike and concluded that it was a computer glitch. He didn't trust that his country hadn't been launched on by the US, whom I doubt he trusted at all, he used logic and determined that the data he was getting was bogus.

      All propaganda to the contrary, the dislike and distrust of the US is not markedly different now than it was 23 years ago.
      • by at_slashdot (674436) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:17PM (#16208559)
        I'm glad he didn't think Americans were launching rockets in a strange pattern in order to fool guys like him.
      • by El Torico (732160) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:42PM (#16208797)
        1983 was a very tense year. This didn't make the "20 Mishaps" list, but it should have -
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83 [wikipedia.org].

        When someone tells you, "Don't worry, they can't intercept these messages", he's wrong.
      • by caitsith01 (606117) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @10:07PM (#16209605) Journal
        > All propaganda to the contrary, the dislike and distrust of the US is not markedly different now than it was 23 years ago.

        This is modded insightful? What nonsense.

        23 years ago the Soviet Bloc was extremely distrustful of the US - the possibility of imminent nuclear annihilation has a way of doing that, especially when you're already living in a ruthless totalitarian machine - but much of the rest of the world regarded the United States as a democratic bastion protecting them from the Soviet empire. Western Europe, in particular, was totally reliant on the US for protection from the massive Russian ground army. Furthermore, the US was genuinely viewed as a (relative) beacon of democracy and human rights in comparison to the ruthless and inhumane Soviet countries.

        Today Western Europe views the United States as the biggest threat to world peace, as does much of the rest of the world. There are stats about this, I can find them if I have to. The US has also lost its role as the leader of the democratic and human rights-aware world, and continues to decline on those fronts at an alarming rate (especially the latter).

        I think I speak for a lot of non-US citizens when I say that it is a tragedy that America cannot be relied upon to do the right thing, even on paper. In my opinion a hell of a lot of anti-American sentiment stems from people who depserately want the US to truly lead, and are appalled at the way it is actually behaving.

        Put it another way - 23 years ago citizens of Britan, Australia, and Western Europe would never have seriously felt that they might be 'disappeared' by US intelligence agencies from a third-party country, tortured, detained for years without any recourse to the law, and eventually tried in an extra-judicial process with the possibility of the death penalty. Today that has in fact happened, and continues to happen if President Bush is to be believed.
  • Gratitude (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:55PM (#16208335) Homepage Journal
    The Soviet military did not punish Petrov for his actions, but did not reward or honor him either. His actions had revealed imperfections in the Soviet military system which showed his superiors in a bad light. He was given a reprimand, officially for the improper filing of paperwork, and his once-promising military career came to an end. He was reassigned to a less sensitive post and ultimately retired from the military.

    That's gratitude for you.

    Thank you Petrov.
    • Re:Gratitude (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chops (168851) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @10:00PM (#16209551)
      Coming from the Soviet government, that was gratitude. In the old days, they sent men by the millions to the gulag for far less (often for nothing). Nearly all Russian POWs released back to Russia were immediately sent to the gulag -- officially under suspicion of being double agents, actually because they might endanger the propaganda about conditions on the other side.

      Solzhenytsin [wikipedia.org] was sent to the gulag after the war. As he was going in (I may be mangling this anecdote somewhat; I'm doing it from memory), a guard asked what he had done to get twenty years.

      "I didn't do anything," said Solzhenytsin.

      "You must be mistaken," said the guard. "The sentence for nothing is only ten years, comrade!" And he burst out laughing.
  • Lucky? How so? (Score:3, Informative)

    by susano_otter (123650) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:59PM (#16208379) Homepage
    I figure, if there are that many examples of OMGARMAGEDDONWTF?!, then it's probably not luck that kicks in every time disaster is averted.
  • Sting said it best (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:59PM (#16208381) Homepage Journal
    ``How long will we keep getting lucky?''

    I couldn't say it better than Sting:

    What might save us, me, and you
    Is that the Russians love their children too
    • by DerekLyons (302214) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .retawriaf.> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:40PM (#16208779) Homepage
      I couldn't say it better than Sting:
       
      What might save us, me, and you
      Is that the Russians love their children too

      And Hitler loved his mistress and Mussolini his. Stalin doted on his daughter.
       
      The lesson of history? That dictators can have tender feelings and still be homicidal maniacs.
      • by Corgha (60478) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @09:45PM (#16209403)
        Your post seems to have missed the point.

        The point Sting was making was not just that the Russians had tender feelings, but rather that they didn't want to cause a global thermonuclear war because it would result in the annihilation of millions of their countrymen, including their own families, for whom they had these tender feelings. In other words, he was saying that mutually assured destruction was, after all, a good deterrent.

        The comparison with dictators is therefore not really apt. Hitler and Stalin had no such assurance of destruction hanging over their heads, and it's probable that they discounted any future possibility of punishment for their actions.

        In other words, Hitler and Stalin were "homicidal maniacs" because they thought they could get away with it, while Russians like Petrov didn't push the button because they knew they wouldn't get away with it.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:02PM (#16208423)
    We'll stay lucky 'til the end of the world.
  • by agw (6387) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:07PM (#16208465)
    Next time you want to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Russia, just launch your missles one after another.

  • by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:10PM (#16208495) Homepage Journal
    Unil the current government of Iran develops nuclear weapons and decides to bring about The Coming of the 12th Imam. [telegraph.co.uk]

  • How long? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NalosLayor (958307) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:10PM (#16208497)
    How long will we keep getting lucky?

    Until about ten minutes before we don't get lucky any more. The answer isn't less nuclear weapons, per se -- we'll always find a new way to kill each other. The answer is in getting people who want to kill others indescriminantly out of power.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nelsonal (549144)
      What if it is being in power that causes people to want to indescriminantly kill others?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gameforge (965493)
      The answer isn't less nuclear weapons, per se -- we'll always find a new way to kill each other.

      Really? The way I see it, this is kind of a new thing for humanity.

      Life in 1900 was, technologically, probably closer to the year 100 than life today is, at least for our species as a whole. Looking at the increase in technological level as an exponential curve, we are approaching the vertical slope.

      Take your favorite weapon from or before the year 1900; bombs, grenades, poison gas, whatever. No country had th
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Funny)

    by o-hayo (700478) <<andy> <at> <lbox.org>> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:13PM (#16208519)
    afterwards, did he take up chess?
  • Wait, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Dalex (996138) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:20PM (#16208597)
    Now, don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that this didn't turn into nuclear war, but it sounds strange to me that he "saved the world." Technically, he chose not to destroy the world based on information from a known faulty satellite. It's like pointing a gun at someone's head, declining to pull the trigger, and then having them thank you for saving their life. In any case, it's good to hear that level-headed people were chosen for this job for precisely this reason.
  • luck? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ElephanTS (624421) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:23PM (#16208619)
    Google for port chicago explosion ie,

    http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en& q=port+chicago+explosion&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 [google.com]

    Seems to me that the first nuclear explosion did actually happen by accident in 1944.

    Very eery if one does a bit of research.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KillerBob (217953)
      In the spirit of one-upmanship... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Explosion [wikipedia.org]

      There were other large explosions long before that happened. During the seige of Ft. George outside of Niagara On The Lake, Ontario, in 1812, for example, an artillery shell hit a magazine. The resulting explosion was described as "resembling a large cauliflower", and was seen from as much as 30 miles away. The fort itself was levelled, and an American general was killed by debris from the explosion more than 15 miles away (a sh
  • by tool462 (677306) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:47PM (#16208845)
    Mrs Petrov: Stanislov saved the world from nuclear annihilation today. What are you doing, you lazy bum?

    /me goes back to playing Pacman...
  • by intnsred (199771) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:49PM (#16208853) Homepage
    Since this is an obvious no-brainer: why aren't we getting rid of nukes?

    Consider a few facts:

    * The USSR, when it existed, several times suggested getting rid of all nuclear weapons. The US rejected their proposals.

    * The nuclear non-proliferation treaty requires that nuclear powers work towards nuclear disarmament. The US rejects all proposals calling for nuclear disarmament.

    * Presently, 4 of the Central Asian *stan countries are organizing to declare themselves a "nuclear free zone" forbidding all nuclear weapons from their territory. What country is working diplomatically and is pressuring them to scuttle the nuclear free zone idea? The US.

    Considering the US has the most nuclear weapons, engages in the most wars, threatens non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons, other countries have an incentive to develop nukes. The ironic thing is that only the US has hundreds of thousands of Marines that can be deployed and a strong worldwide military deployment capability -- eliminating nukes will not weaken that capability.

    But eliminating nukes does not fit into the US Pentagon's publicly stated goal of complete, worldwide military superiority.

    Nukes won't be eliminated until the US foreign policy and militarism is changed in a substantial way -- and that is not happening. Until it does, we can expect more "close calls".
    • by evil agent (918566) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @09:16PM (#16209149)
      Hi Mr. Troll. Thanks for not giving any sources for your "facts"

      The nuclear non-proliferation treaty requires that nuclear powers work towards nuclear disarmament. The US rejects all proposals calling for nuclear disarmament.

      See this graph. [nrdc.org]

    • by BeeBeard (999187) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @09:18PM (#16209171)
      Salient points, sure. But you've got to acknowledge the psychological effect that a horde of nuclear weapons has as a deterrent against military attacks against the U.S., and as leverage in negotiating conventions with other nations. Who would want to give that up? Nuclear non-proliferation treaties only favor you if you have nothing to lose anyway. So no, the U.S. will not be jumping on the peacenik bandwagon any time soon.

      Consider the case of Richard Gatling [wikipedia.org], the inventor of the famous Gatling gun [wikipedia.org]. You may have seen the gun in old Western movies. Once the design was tweaked, the Gatling gun became the most devastating weapon on the planet in the latter part of the 19th century. Its inventor believed it to be a peacetime weapon, too, just as nuclear weapons are today. He reasoned that the weapon was so powerful, and the loss of life resulting from its use so great, that anyone would submit rather than see it used them. Of course, the irony was that the gun was indeed put into action shortly after its inception--by Americans against other Americans in the Civil War.

      And there you have it in a nutshell. We essentially used a weapon of mass destructions against our own people--the only thing that has changed is the technology--and you have this unrealistic expectation that we will now get rid of weapons intended for use against people in other nations? It's not happening. At least not in our lifetimes.
    • by charnov (183495) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @10:05PM (#16209587) Homepage Journal
      "The USSR, when it existed, several times suggested getting rid of all nuclear weapons. The US rejected their proposals."

      This never happened. I don't even have to cite a source on this one. I would like to point out that at least as current as Yeltsin, Russia still had a first strike nuclear doctrine. Russia's nuclear arsenal has dwindled rapidly, however due to economic issues and the hard work of Senator Lugar and his Nunn-Lugar Cooperative which has been using US tax dollars to PAY the Russians to disarm (on fo the few use of my tax dollars I approve of). Russia's current nuclear arsenal is used as deterrant towards China, North Korea, and Iran (cited from Jane's and CDI)

      " The nuclear non-proliferation treaty requires that nuclear powers work towards nuclear disarmament. The US rejects all proposals calling for nuclear disarmament."

      The NNP Treaty actually has three parts: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peacefully use nuclear tech. Part one allows for all of the then current nuclear powers to remain so. Those nations just happen to be the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. The rule states that those nations will not give the technology to any other nation and will not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear nation (although France, the US, and Britain have recently said "rogue states" are fair game.). Part two deals with disarmament. The US has decreased it's stockpile considerably and continues to do so. The Bush administration was the first to try and reverse this although they seem to have had that idea squashed in Congress. The NNP specifically states that disarmament is voluntary and any nation may opt out for a time if they have a perceived threat that necessitates it. I, and a hell of a lot of my fellow citizens, think we do. The idea of the treaty was to reduce pressure on other nations to develop their own weapons in response to perceived "pressure" from nuclear powers to do so. It has worked so far but more needs to be done. To say the US has not reduced it's stockpile is bull, however.

      " Presently, 4 of the Central Asian *stan countries are organizing to declare themselves a "nuclear free zone" forbidding all nuclear weapons from their territory. What country is working diplomatically and is pressuring them to scuttle the nuclear free zone idea? The US."

      The Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (CANNWFZ) is being opposed by the US, France, and the UK on grounds that four of the nations are part of the 1992 Tashkent Collective Security Treaty with Russia which requires Russian nuclear weapons to be used in the event of ANY hostilities as aid to those nations. The CANWFZ specifically allows that treay to stay put. So even though those nations agree to not develop or deploy nuclear on their soil, they are, by proxy, armed with nuclear weapons. It's a have "your cake and eat it, too" situation. The nations involved with the treay are in the lousy position of possibly pissing off both Russia and the US which are both working partners in the region. I do believe this will be resolved as some concessions where made just this year with the treaty and that the US will sign on, but only after tensions with Iran, a neighboring nation, subside a little. The US has signed three other NWFZ treaties and is, at least in spirit, for the idea.

      "Considering the US has the most nuclear weapons, engages in the most wars, threatens non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons, other countries have an incentive to develop nukes. The ironic thing is that only the US has hundreds of thousands of Marines that can be deployed and a strong worldwide military deployment capability -- eliminating nukes will not weaken that capability."

      You are mostly correct in the beginning of that statement. By most estimates, Russia still has the most nuclear weapons. The US has more ICBM's. Russia lacks delivery methods for most of it's arsenal, though. There is a real effort and pressure to reduce our stockpile not only of nuclear but of chemical weapons as well. I
    • Entirely ridding the world of nuclear weapons is not obvious, and it's not a no brainer. In fact, it's virtually impossible. The technology can't be uninvented, and if the existing nuclear powers completely disarmed it would leave them and the rest of the world open to nuclear blackmail.

      The Economist did an excellent article earlier this year (one of their best efforts for a long time in an increasingly mediocre magazine) about the practical difficulties of nuclear disarmament. It's behind their subscr

  • 00000000 (Score:3, Funny)

    by LearnToSpell (694184) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:49PM (#16208857) Homepage
    That was the standard unlock code for nukes during the Cold War. :-) Sleep well tonight!

  • Here's a question. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by O'Laochdha (962474) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @08:56PM (#16208925) Journal
    Let's say that by some series of events, it actually happened. Somewhere in the world, a nuclear weapon hit a hostile nuclear power. What would happen?

    Here is the traditional answer: "There would be a retaliatory strike. Allies of both parties would get in on the act. The two sides would lob nukes at one another until everyone involved were destroyed, with serious, possibly apocalyptic damage to the world at large."

    That made perfect sense in the Cold War, when the two largest powers were the US and Russia and nearly every other nuclear power took one side or the other. Nearly the entire world would be bombed outright, and the sheer area of the US and Russia alone would create a shitload of radiation. Nowadays, however, it seems more likely that at least one side of the war will be a small nation or alliance of small nations. It's unlikely that more than a few countries will be drawn in. How much radiation would there actually be at the end?

    Also, how willing would other nations be to go into this? There's not a clear-cut capitalist/communist distinction anymore. It doesn't seem unlikely that only two nations would fight the war, especially if one of them were the US. To enter into a nuclear war would be certain death for every man, woman, and child in your country. Treaties be damned, I can't imagine many countries jumping at the chance.

    Finally, what guarantee is there that it would become a nuclear war at all? The last thing a sane leader would want after a nuclear strike would be for the situation to escalate. Obviously, they couldn't just sit there, but I'd imagine that the retaliation would be primarily conventional, or one or two surgical blasts.

    I just want to say that a nuclear war doesn't need to turn into Dr. Strangelove. It is quite possible for it to end with a whimper.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It comes down to game theory.

      Scenario 1:
      USSR: *whoosh* *boom!*
      USA: Hey, you nuked Nashville!
      USSR: Yeah, so?
      USA: I ought to nuke you right back!
      USSR: Quit while you're ahead. Try it and I'll nuke every city you have. Which is better, no Nashville or no anything?
      USA: Ulp, OK, but we're going to say really nasty things about you in the press.

      Scenario 2:
      USSR: *whoosh* *boom!*
      USA: *whoosh* (2000 times) *boom!* (2000 times)
      USSR: *whoosh* (2000 times) *boom!* (2000 times)

      Scenario 3:
      USSR: Hm, maybe nuking Nashville
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)
      The last thing a sane leader would want after a nuclear strike would be for the situation to escalate.

      That'd be great if leaders of nations were sane, but I doubt any mortal person COULD be after finding out that millions of the people they had sworn to protect had just been vaporized by a nuclear bomb. The reponse to a nuclear attack is almost certain to be excessive and irrational.

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