The 1983 War Scare Declassified. Reagan was really scared.Breaking News
tags: nuclear weapons, Reagan
Related Link Story in the National Post (Canada)
The newly released Soviet "War Scare" report - previously classified "TOP SECRET UMBRA GAMMA WNINTEL NOFORN NOCONTRACT ORCON" and published today after a 12-year fight by the National Security Archive - reveals that the 1983 War Scare was real. According to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), the United States "may have inadvertently placed our relations with the Soviet Union on a hair trigger" during the 1983 NATO nuclear release exercise, Able Archer 83.
Policymakers, and now historians have had vehement disagreements about the War Scare, leading some to describe the debate as "an echo chamber of inadequate research and misguided analysis," and the CIA itself to downplay the danger in its 1984 review. This newly declassified PFIAB document, however, provides the strongest evidence to date that the danger of the War Scare was real, as the only study written with access to all US intelligence files on US/NATO actions and the Soviet response in the fall of 1983.
BACKGROUND -- WIKIPEDIA
Able Archer 83 was a ten-day North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) command post exercise starting on November 2, 1983, that spanned Western Europe, centered on the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) Headquarters in Casteau, north of the city of Mons. Able Archer exercises simulated a period of conflict escalation, culminating in a simulated DEFCON 1 coordinated nuclear attack. The exercise also introduced a new, unique format of coded communication, radio silences, and the participation of heads of government.
The realistic nature of the 1983 exercise, coupled with deteriorating relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and the anticipated arrival of Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe, led some members of the Soviet Politburo and military to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse of war, obscuring preparations for a genuine nuclear first strike. In response, the Soviets readied their nuclear forces and placed air units in East Germany and Poland on alert. The apparent threat of nuclear war ended with the conclusion of the exercise on November 11.
Some historians have since argued that Able Archer 83 was one of the times when the world has come closest to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.