Ron Rosenbaum has an incredibly chilling article that suggests that the Russian Federation has a “doomsday” device that could allow a single individual to launch a massive nuclear strike. The system, code-named “Perimetr” is designed to detect a nuclear impact on Russian soil, and if so detected to await a stand-down order from Moscow. If that order is not received, an individual officer can then launch a responding strike.
With Vladimir Putin continuing to ratchet up tensions by resuming strategic bomber missions from Russian territory, the idea of such a “doomsday weapon” is frightening. We assume that there are command and control systems in place to prevent an accidental nuclear war — yet the safeguards in place for those command systems may not be sufficient to protect us from just such an eventuality.
We live in a world of risk, and while terrorists getting their hands on WMDs remains one of the lead risks we face, a conventional attack is not out of the question. Developing effective countermeasures while working to ratchet down tensions remain just as crucial now as they were 25 years ago when the risk of Soviet attack was a preoccupation of the US military. We would like to think that the days of the Cold War are over, but as Russia once again reaches towards militarism, the day of a nuclear threat from Russia may not be quite over. We should hope that technologies like ballistic missile defenses are not needed, but if they ever are needed, we cannot allow ourselves to be caught in a position where millions of lives are lost due to their absence.