US Commander: Take Nukes Off High Alert or Risk Hackers Starting a War

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Retired Gen. James Cartwright — who was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before retiring in 2011 — told the Associated Press that “de-alerting” nuclear weapons could reduce the likelihood of launching them in response to a false attack warning.

Just adding a little more time necessary to launch — which would do nothing to affect the deterrent value of the weapons — could make all the difference, said Cartwright, who was also the head of Strategic Command from 2004 to 2007.

Cartwright said that its an idea that should be revisited since “the sophistication of the cyberthreat has increased exponentially” in recent years.

“It is reasonable to believe that that threat has extended itself” into nuclear weapons systems, he added. “Have they been penetrated? I don’t know. Is it reasonable technically to assume they could be? Yes.”

The US currently has 450 Minuteman 3 missiles ready to launch from underground silos within minutes of a presidential order, day or night. Cartwright has proposed a system that would require 24 to 72 hours before the missiles would be ready to launch.

The administration believes those missiles need “to be ready and effective and able to prosecute the mission at any point in time,” Robert Scher, the top Pentagon official dealing with nuclear policy told Congress this month about why “de-alerting” was not an option.

Next Close Call Could be Catastrophe

Perhaps the most often cited of these is the incident in 1980, under President Jimmy Carter, when a defective computer chip caused a false report that the Soviet Union had launched over 2000 nuclear missiles. US missile crews had their safes open, and bomber crews were starting their engines before it was declared a false alarm.

Full article: US Commander: Take Nukes Off High Alert or Risk Hackers Starting a War (Sputnik News)

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