Crises that can lead to nuclear disasters in the world

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Sixty years ago, the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly plunged the world into nuclear catastrophe.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens the use of nuclear weapons in the war he is waging in Ukraine, in what appears to be crises that have almost led to nuclear disasters.

The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962

In October 1962, at the height of the Cold War, a 13-day standoff between then-young US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev took place. Photos taken by a US spy plane revealed the presence of Soviet rocket launchers in Cuba, an ally of Moscow, reaching US shores.

Kennedy decided to isolate the island and impose a naval blockade, as a “nuclear attack on the Western Hemisphere” was possible.

The strategic forces were put on edge, the level just before the outbreak of the nuclear war. Hundreds of atomic launchers flew into the air and ICBMs were equipped.

The Soviet ships returned and behind the scenes a deal between the two powers was being prepared. The Soviet missiles were withdrawn in exchange for the withdrawal of US missiles from Turkey. At that time, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba.

Kennedy sent his brother Robert, who was then Attorney General, to negotiate with the Soviet ambassador. Khrushchev agreed to withdraw his missiles. Washington vowed not to invade Cuba and secretly withdraw its missiles from Turkey.

After this crisis, a “red phone” was set up in 1963 that allowed the White House and the Kremlin to establish direct contact.

– False alarm in the Soviet Union –

On the night of September 25-26, 1983, during a period of great tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, a Soviet officer guarded a strategic preparedness base in southern Moscow. Stanislav Petrov had a moment to interpret a warning signal from satellites announcing an attack by five or six American missiles on the Soviet Union.

Petrov estimated that the US attack could involve about a hundred missiles, not five or six. He then concluded that it was a fault in the warning systems and took the responsibility of notifying his superiors of an imminent attack, but of a false alarm.

Subsequently, Soviet experts concluded that this was caused by a misinterpretation of the reflection of the sun’s rays on clouds, which was confused with the energy emitted by rockets when they were launched. A few months later, Petrov received an order “for services to the Fatherland”, but the incident was kept secret for ten years.

Nuclear crisis between India and Pakistan in 2001-2002

In May 2002, India and Pakistan, which had been fighting over Kashmir since their partition in 1947, were on the cusp of another confrontation.

India accused Pakistanis of committing a suicide attack on the parliament in New Delhi on December 13, 2001, which killed 14 people.

The two nuclear powers have mobilized about a million soldiers on their borders since 1998, mainly in Kashmir.

And Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced in April 2002 that he was considering “the use of nuclear weapons.”

“If all of Pakistan is in danger of being wiped off the map, then the pressure on our people is very great and this possibility must also be taken into account: an atomic bomb if necessary,” he said.

Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said that in the event of a nuclear attack, “India may survive, but Pakistan may not.”

New Delhi and Islamabad responded by conducting missile tests within two years, then under pressure from Washington pledged to stop the escalation, leading to a ceasefire in November 2003 and then talks in January 2004.

– Other accidents –

KGB defector Colonel Oleg Gordeyevsky revealed in 1988 that five years earlier, in November 1983, Soviet leaders were about to start nuclear war when they panicked after thinking the West was about to launch a surprise nuclear attack. against the Soviet Socialist Republics of the Union.

In fact, they were North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercises.

Among other incidents, Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s nuclear portfolio was alarmed on January 25, 1995 when Russian radars detected the launch of a Norwegian meteorological missile and interpreted it as a possible offensive launch.

Moscow said it was a “misunderstanding” a week later.

The United States is the only country in the world to have used nuclear weapons in Japan in 1945.

The bombings of Hiroshima (140,000 dead) and Nagasaki (74,000 dead) three days later led to the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.


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