Dead Hand – This is Russia’s nuclear-powered weapon-control system. This weapon system first came into existence during the Cold War. Various scientists from the USSR have contributed to the development of such a robust weaponry system. This weapon-control system has the ability to strike out the incoming missile as well as automatically fire a nuclear missile to attack the enemy. This system is also known as The Perimeter.
During the Cold War, with tensions continuously rising between both the blocs, both blocs started producing weapons on a huge scale. It was at this time when the USSR started developing this weapon. So it would be fair to say that this weapon was developed in the nineteenth century, from 1970-1980.
How did the world come to know about this highly confidential program?
In the year 1990, Viktor Yesin, then commander of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces spoke about this in an interview given to some local news channel. Even though very few things were revealed in that interview but those were enough for investigation agencies to investigate the legitimacy of this program. After years of investigation and covert operations, by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, some information is now available in the public domain.
Why did the USSR start developing the Dead Hand?
There are various theories that are given by various different experts. But the most accepted reason is, little or no time to retaliate if the United States were to attack the Russian Federation. Yesin said that if the United States starts deploying intermediate-range missiles in its states then still they will have the time for retaliatory fire. But what if the United States were to deploy their missiles in Europe? In this case, Russia would have only a few minutes for retaliation. In such a case, according to Yesin, they would consider adopting a doctrine of a preemptive nuclear strike. What could be better for such a strike, than a semi-automatic nuclear-based weapon-control system?
Even if the majority of Russia’s nuclear power facility is destroyed there always be bunkers, where commanders and officers will be deployed for ensuring the retaliatory fire. In that bunker, various types of equipment are fitted, which would ensure the proper functioning of the system.
According to experts, Geiger Counter – for measuring nuclear radiation is fitted at various locations above the bunker. They constantly check radiation levels above the bunker, on the ground. So, if there is some nuclear strike on Russia that would trigger nuclear radiation and if the radiation shoots beyond a certain point then officers in the bunker are authorized to fire retaliatory missiles. Thus activating THE DEAD HAND!
Seeing the mystery around this, David E Hoffman wrote the Pulitzer prize-winning book – The Dead Hand. A lot of things are discussed in this book. This is one of the most enlightening books.
A wise man once said ” With more power comes a greater security risk ”
If we were to analyze this in The Dead Hand’s concept then we realize a few things. As this system will function only in dire situations a lot of things would happen and that too at a very high pace. And, nuclear weapons are no joke. So if at all any mistake was to occur during the process this could lead to irreparable damage to any country on the face of the earth. The consequence of such a mistake would be beyond physical boundaries.
Is the Dead Hand still relevant?
Well, with the development of Hypersonic missiles – traveling at a speed eight to ten times the speed of sound, it has become very easy to strike any country with a number of nuclear bombs within no time. So, keeping a system like The Dead Hand would ensure the security of the nation. But, it will come at some cost, and will that come at the cost of humanity? It depends on us!