A few days ago was the twentieth anniversary of an event which is but a footnote in history, but nevertheless could have had catastrophic consequences for the world.
On January 25, 1995, the world may have come closest to nuclear war as a Norwegian-American “research rocket” was launched from northern Europe. Although many other such rocket launches had been made by Norway since the 1960s, the news of this particular launch somehow passed by Russian authorities causing them to go on high alert when they detected it:
The rocket was spotted by Russian early-warning radars. The radar operators sent an alert to Moscow. Within minutes, President Boris Yeltsin was brought his black nuclear-command suitcase. For several tense minutes, while Yeltsin spoke with his defense minister by telephone, confusion reigned.
Cold-War Doctrines Refuse to Die, by David Hoffman (March 15, 1998)
Was this perhaps the closest the world has come to nuclear showdown? While this event was eventually filed away as a simple misunderstanding, doesn’t it suggest that we have serious problems when we go to the brink of nuclear launch?