from the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The BBC reported last week that until 1998 no code or dual key system was required to arm British nuclear weapons. Bombs were armed by inserting a bicycle lock key (video) into the arming switch and turning it 90 degrees. Permissive Action Links (PALs) were introduced in the 1960s in America to prevent a mad General or pilot launching a nuclear war on their own and to control nuclear weapons that were at least partially controlled by other nations but as late as 1974, when an armed quarrel broke out between two members of NATO, Greece and Turkey, the Secretary of Defense learned that many tactical nukes were still not equipped with PALS. It has been reported that PALs have been installed on Pakistan's nuclear weapons to disarm or disable their triggering mechanism if the wrong code is entered or if the bomb is tampered with in any manner."