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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September, 1986

COMMITTEE FOR STATE SECURITY (KGB), 'ABOUT RESULTS OF INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES TO NOTE INDICATORS FOR A SURPRISE NUCLEAR MISSILE ATTACK'

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    This report from the KGB contains results from intelligence activities conducted in September 1986 aimed at exposing indicators of a surprise nuclear missile attack on the USSR.
    "Committee for State Security (KGB), 'About Results of Intelligence Activities to Note Indicators for a Surprise Nuclear Missile Attack'," September, 1986, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, BStU, MfS, ZAIG, Nr. 6755, S. 7-11. Translated by Bernd Schaefer. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119910
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Strictly confidential!

About results of intelligence activities to note indicators for a surprise nuclear missile attack
(September 1986)

Political Area

In NATO a draft for directives was prepared to determine basic principles concerning the use of nuclear weapons in case of an armed conflict with the states of the Warsaw Treaty. Expanded are the scope for use of strikes and conduct of limited nuclear war over a longer period of time in the European theater of war. It also gets proposed to simplify procedures of consultations between leaderships of [NATO] bloc states on questions pertaining to the use of nuclear weapons. Directives are supposed to be tabled for confirmation by the NATO Nuclear Defense Planning Group at the meetings on October 21 and 22 this year.

In NATO states the option gets discussed to establish a standardized Western European intelligence system to warn before a surprise attack. Its need is seen in the lack of a precise mechanism to exchange intelligence information between the US and the other states of the bloc about indicators for an immediate attack.

The decision was made to supply the plane of the US President with special equipment for communication with the “Rapid Reaction Force” and the Special Forces. The US Department of State made some changes to its order to prepare and implement evacuations of personnel from foreign posts in case of emergence of “non-standard” situations. Major attention is paid to guarantee reliable and fast communication with the US Department of State. In Japan, crisis management was rehearsed and chaired by Prime Minister Nakasone during exercises by the Self-Defense Forces.

Military Area

In September the intensity of exercise battle activities by NATO forces increased in the European Theater of War in context of the annual maneuver series “Autumn Forge”. At times, up to 270,000 men of existing personnel were in full combat readiness, also about 10,500 units with tank technology, more than 2,000 aircraft, and 250 ships of which a significant part is equipped with nuclear weapons. A worrisome element during exercises was the participation of large offensive units from the US Atlantic fleet, consisting of three aircraft carrier groups and the battleship “Iowa”, which is armed with cruise missiles.

The military-political leadership of the US continues to keep the offensive units of its air and naval forces in the Mediterranean in full readiness for the case of potential combat actions against Libya.

At the same time, the US has increased its military presence in the Pacific area. Between September 10 and 20, major exercises by the American Navy (“Floatex 86”) took place in the Okhotsk Sea and in the Sea of Japan. 20 warships participated (among them three aircraft carriers and the battleship “New Jersey”), which were equipped with about 70 launching pads for “Tomahawk” cruise missiles.

At Warren Air Force Base in the US state of Wyoming the now third MX missile was installed. Preparation works to mount missiles of this type on five additional launching pads are in their final phase.

The Supreme Command of the US forces has activated the first level (56 relay stations) of long wave communication reserve system “Gwenn” [sic, GWEN]. It is supposed to transmit alert signals about a nuclear missile attack, as well as instructions and orders from the supreme military leadership.

On October 1 this year a new standardized system called “Jintax” to transmit and process formalized reports will be introduced in troops and units of US forces in Europe. It guarantees technical compatibility of AFS [automated guidance systems] of all armed services for the purpose of mutual exchange.

Economic Area

The US Department of the Navy conducted a check of readiness for extraordinary situations with the reserves of the naval warfare fleet. It showed that still about 3,500 reservists are required for a complete replenishing of the Navy's reserve ship crews.

At the NATO naval forces exercise “Blue Fox”, plans were rehearsed in Norway for deployment of merchant ships as minesweepers and for transportation of military equipment and troops. Between September 15 and 19, exercises were held in Great Britain to check the readiness of ground and flying personnel at London's airport “Heathrow” for operations during wartimes.

The American corporation “Hughes” has developed a project to equip a couple of airports in Italy, Greece, and Turkey with additional radar stations. They are supposed to expand options for using those airports both during the conduct of NATO exercises and under conditions of war.

Civil Defense Area

In the FRG a coordination committee with representatives from leading ministries and agencies is created to be responsible for drafting and implementing measures of protection against radioactive and chemical contamination as a result of large technological disasters. There are plans for creating a standardized system in the country to control the radioactive and chemical situation.

In Canada evacuation exercises were held for the part of the population from areas adjacent to nuclear power plants in order to assess effectiveness of existing evacuation plans. For the first time, during drills of the civil defense system (Fast Drop) with imitation of a nuclear attack (September 17 to 18) participation of Canada's national agency for emergency preparedness was noted.

In all major cities in France and the FRG (September 3 to 17) scheduled checks took place for alert systems to warn the population about the danger of an attack.

As a result of checks of the blood bank, it was found out in the US that about 5 percent of national blood reserves were infected with hepatitis viruses and have to be subsequently destroyed. In order to secure a trouble-free supply for American hospitals, the US had to buy large amounts of blood in the Netherlands.

Intelligence Activities Area

During the first half of September, adversarial intelligence services activated their activities to guarantee security for US military bases and representations in Europe due to the aggravation of the situation in the Mediterranean.

The US Congress passed a bill to introduce heightened security measures in objects where radioactive material is stored. At the FBI, a special database is created with fingerprints of all individuals working with nuclear material.

Some of the nuclear explosions recently undertaken at the Nevada test site were related to the development of special nuclear loads planned for use in diversion activities. In parallel, work id done to find ways to limit recognition of such loads by technological means.

Translated: Petzold, Captain
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