News Release

Postol on Accidental Nuclear War: “We Should be Very Alarmed”

THEODORE A. POSTOL, postol@mit.edu
Available for a limited number of interviews, Postol is professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. He said today: “We should be very alarmed. Every day of high tensions, nuclear alert and war increases the chances of not only unpredictable escalations, but of accidental nuclear war.”

Postol explained: “The Russian early warning system is nothing like the U.S. early warning system. The U.S. government knows when a ballistic missile has been launched anywhere in the world. The Russian’s can’t do that. They completely rely on ground-based early warning radars against nuclear surprise attack. As a result of this, the Russians are susceptible to thinking they are under an attack when they are not. The Russian false alert of 1995 illustrates the serious dangers to the U.S. from this limitation in Russia’s early warning systems. The 1995 false alarm happened to take place during a politically calm time between Moscow and Washington. If such a mistake were to happen now, there would be a very serious risk of nuclear war which would kill billions of people. In the U.S., there has been virtually no concern on this issue.”

“Instead, Washington has withdrawn from treaties in recent years like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This has obviously upset the Russians.”

See Postol’s 2015 piece in the Boston Globe: “How a nuclear near-miss in ’95 would be a disaster today.”

On Thursday evening, Postol will be participating in a talk online organized by the Committee for the Republic.