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February 27, 2004

Baseless Conjecture

The first thing I thought of when I read this article about the U.S. sabotaging the Soviet economy using Trojan Horse software was "Oh my God. Chernobyl."

Keep in mind that I am just thinking out loud here. The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear facility seems to have been thoroughly researched and the root causes of the accident seem to have been human in nature, rather than software related, but it isn't hard to imagine that the Soviets would have been pursuing Western nuclear technology. That would have made their nuclear facilities incredibly vulnerable to trojan horse software designed to cause an eventual meltdown.

And it is one thing to admit that a covert CIA operation caused a pipeline explosion that did mostly economic damage. It would be quite another to admit that the same operation caused one of the most frightening human catastrophes of the last century. It's not something you would expect the U.S. government would ever allow to come to light.

And if the goal of the U.S. administration at the time was to hasten the end of the Soviet Union, it could easily be argued that the Chernobyl disaster was the final nail in the coffin of that particular entity. It could at least be argued that the Chernobyl meltdown was the beginning of the end.

Admittedly, the natural gas pipeline explosion took place in 1982, and Chernobyl four years later in 1986. Maybe Chernobyl took place outside of the timeline of the CIA operation. But the Soviet Union was still in place and the cold war was still on, so it's conceivable that the two incidents were part of the same program.

Certainly something upon which to reflect. Which brings to mind the question "other than the pipeline explosion, what were some of the other direct effects of the program"?

Posted by Kehaar at February 27, 2004 01:11 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

If this becomes a standard anti-American rant item among conspiracy freaks, can I come smack you about the head?

Or at least call you a very naughty bunny?

Posted by: Sigivald at February 27, 2004 01:54 PM

I prefer the naughty bunny bit. I did my best to make sure people understood that it was just the musings of one person, rather than anything supported by anything more than supposition. But conspiracy freaks will latch onto anything.

And it could've happened that way. :)

Posted by: Kehaar at February 27, 2004 02:06 PM

Occams razor? It was the failures inherent in central planning, which have been celebrated in song and rhyme these 50+ years.

Which is more reasonable--a complex conspiracy requiring the lifetime silence of a host of operatives and programmers? Or, was it the simple result of a system which continually killed or drove off innovators and the able, leaving the complexities of such as Chernobyl to be dealt with by little better than drunken apes?

Read and reflect on, if you will, all the documents outed from the Kremlin archives which discuss the extent of the rot.

Millions of flashlights...no batteries. An Energizer Bunny plot? Undeveloped film at 11.

Posted by: Stephen at February 27, 2004 02:11 PM

The Soviet individual who turned the information over to the French, who in turn passed it along to the Americans, was discovered and executed in 1983. Conceivably, if the Soviet authorities had any idea of what information the leaker had access to, they would have then been able to figure out what had been compromised and needed to be fixed, giving them two to three years until Chernobyl. Then again, whether they actually would have been able to both figure out what was compromised and then rebuild things in three years is questionable.

Posted by: Dan at February 27, 2004 02:20 PM

"Keep in mind that I am just thinking out loud here. The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear facility seems to have been thoroughly researched and the root causes of the accident seem to have been human in nature, rather than software related, but it isn't hard to imagine that the Soviets would have been pursuing Western nuclear technology. That would have made their nuclear facilities incredibly vulnerable to trojan horse software designed to cause an eventual meltdown."

The control systems that would have to made to work contrary to their desired operation and the event/accident mitigation systems that would have to be disabled in order to result in a meltdown are not controlled by networked digital computers. Neither were the Soviets' reactor systems. In the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has not licensed plants with that type of digital control of reactivity because those types of systems have not been pedigreed to the level of reliability they would expect before granting such permission.

Fortunately or unfortunately, as it may be, fifty plus years of nuclear reactor usage have demonstrated that it takes a human to toast a nuclear reactor core. :(

(Full disclosure: The Rev is a Presbyterian minister who supports himself by working as an engineer at a nuclear power plant.)

Posted by: Rev. Mike at February 27, 2004 03:53 PM

I agree with the Reverend. The Soviet Union was like a beat-up old Yugo (or Lada, to be more accurate) that was falling apart anyway. The fact that the mechanic installed faulty spark plugs doesn't mean the car would have lasted any longer.

Chernobyl was made possible by communist hubris and the denial that is inherent in any totalitarian society.

Posted by: Captain Holly at February 28, 2004 09:17 AM

Wouldn't Kehaar be called a "bad bird," rather than a "naughty bunny," regarding the chastisement above?

Posted by: Robert Bauer at February 28, 2004 09:45 AM

Robert: If he's a bird, then he's a very bad bunny indeed, no?

Posted by: Sigivald at March 1, 2004 04:41 PM
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