New Documents Reveal How a 1980s Nuclear War Scare Became a Full-Blown Crisis -- Danger Room
During 10 days in November 1983, the United States and the Soviet Union nearly started a nuclear war. Newly declassified documents from the CIA, NSA, KGB, and senior officials in both countries reveal just how close we came to mutually assured destruction — over a military exercise.
That exercise, Able Archer 83, simulated the transition by NATO from a conventional war to a nuclear war, culminating in the simulated release of warheads against the Soviet Union. NATO changed its readiness condition during Able Archer to DEFCON 1, the highest level. The Soviets interpreted the simulation as a ruse to conceal a first strike and readied their nukes. At this period in history, and especially during the exercise, a single false alarm or miscalculation could have brought Armageddon.
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My Comment: In my family the deployment of Pershing II missiles in Western Germany made my father and his old World War II buddies (they served in the Soviet army) upset over the installation of these missiles. My father's position was that the Soviet military should rush into West Germany and seize these missiles .... which made me upset in turn. I knew that such an invasion would mean World War III with nuclear weapons .... but my father saw the situation through his World War II experiences.
In the end .... it was these World War II experiences that probably convinced the Soviet leadership to not start a World War .... but I I remember those times very clearly, and how it was "touch and go" for those few years.