On January 25th 1995, a Norwegian science rocket was launched from the military base Andøya in northern Norway. The objective of the rocket was to collect information about the northern light.
Photo of the rocket during the launch:
However, when the Russian defence picked up the rocket on their radar, they sounded the alert. The reason was that the speed altitude and heading of the rocket matched their scenario of how a western nuclear attack would begin.
"From our scenarios, a nuclear strike would begin around Norway, before strategic nuclear missiles would be launched." This is what Maksim Sjingarkin tells the Norwegian television channel TV2. Maksim Sjingarkin was an officer in the top secret organisation which were in control of all of Russias nuclear weapons.
The incident was covered by the media world wide, but Sjingarkin is the first officer to tell the story of what happened on the inside this wintersday. He claims people are not aware of just how close we were to seing a nuclear war.
"This was much worse than the Cuba crisis. It was litterally a matter of minutes."
According to Maksim Sjingarkin, this incident was far more dangerous than the Cuba crisis, because in the 60s, there was a dialogue between the nations on the subject. In this case, there was no dialogue, because everything happend very fast, and unexpected.
Sjingarkin explains in detail how close we came to WWIII.
"Jeltsin had opened `the briefcase`, the keys were put in place, and a direct call was made to the US president. At the same time, nuclear missiles were prepared to be launched against the west. Jeltsin literally sat there with his finger on the trigger for awhile, considering whether to launch the counter attack or not.
One of the reasons the incident had a happy ending was that his fellow officers hesitated to get the Russian counter missiles ready for launch while the Norwegian rocket was airborne. When the officers were ordered to prepare the missiles to be launched, they faced such a serious moralic dilemma, that they simply were unable to follow orders."
As we now know, the situation was solved in the last minute, and no launch was made from Russia.
Maksim Sjingarkin left the armed forces as a Major in 2000. The incident has since made him realize just how horrific nuclear weapons are, and he is now working on reducing the number of nuclear devices worldwide.