‘Dead hand’ – Russia’s creepy plan to counterattack the US in the event of a nuclear strike

This post was published by Caleb Larson. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


WASHINGTON, (BM) – The 1970s were for the United States the worst period of the Cold War. During this decade, the war in Vietnam split the American people – the public, languishing from a long and painful war, demanded peace at all costs. The Soviet Union led the nuclear arms race and seemed stronger than ever.

But then the Reagan administration proposed a bold, albeit risky, plan for victory in the Cold War. Under Reagan, the United States did not give up, did not buy its security by surrender – the American retreat ended and there was no longer room for reconciliation in US foreign policy.

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The goal of this political shift – to convince the Soviet Union that the United States is not afraid of nuclear war and is ready to strike at the USSR first – was achieved. Coupled with military accomplishments – real or imaginary, like Star Wars, a space-based weapon system that could shoot down Soviet missiles – Reagan rhetoric alerted the Soviet leadership. If the United States were the first to hit the USSR and be able to shoot down retaliatory Soviet missiles, they could very well survive the nuclear war.

Soviet leaders believed that the United States would not retreat from a nuclear war – or perhaps not fail to unleash it. It seemed to them that they were pressed against the wall. Then they came up with the “Dead Hand” (System “Perimeter”, a complex of automatic control of a massive retaliatory nuclear strike, – note by the editorial office of InosMI).

Dead Hand System

The Dead Hand was a trouble-free (there was nothing to refuse) launch system for all Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles that would survive the first American strike. Here’s how its capabilities are described in an article by Wired magazine.

“It was designed to be in a dormant state until a senior official activates it in a crisis situation. Then she would start monitoring a network of sensors – seismic, radiation, atmospheric pressure – for signs of nuclear explosions.” If activated, the system itself would make sure whether there was a nuclear strike or not.

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“Before the retaliatory strike, the system had to check four“ if / then ”: firstly, if it was activated, then it would try to determine whether the strike was a nuclear weapon on Soviet territory. If so, the system would check the connection with the General If there is a connection, then after some time without further signs of an attack – from 15 minutes to an hour – the system would automatically shut down, concluding that the officials who can issue a counterattack are still alive. If there is no connection, ” Perimeter “will decide that the ships day has come. “

After fixing this nightmarish situation, the system gives a command to launch missiles in fortified and protected from nuclear attack mine launchers (silos) throughout the Soviet Union, transmitting it sequentially to all surviving missiles. They start from silos and arrange nuclear Armageddon.

Even if the highest military command of the Soviet Union, politicians, leaders, its cities and the capital – and whoever and anything else – turned into smoldering heaps of ash, the Soviet Union could still guarantee retaliation.

Acts now?

As for the autonomy of the “Dead Hand” there is no consensus. There is debate about whether it still exists today, although Russian officials have confirmed that the “Dead Hand” really was in the past, and that a similar trouble-free system still exists. The Soviet Dead Hand does not play its former role in Russian nuclear strategy, but it remains only to hope that it is not as sensitive as it was during the Cold War.

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