Newsnight has discovered that until the early days of the Blair government the RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key.Here we have proof, if proof were needed, that Pelagianism was a British heresy. How could anyone with a healthy regard for the doctrine of Original Sin say: "It would be invidious to suggest... that Senior Service officers may, in difficult circumstances, act in defiance of their clear orders"?
There was no other security on the Bomb itself.
While American and Russian weapons were protected by tamper-proof combination locks which could only be released if the correct code was transmitted, Britain relied on a simpler technology.
The British military resisted Whitehall proposals to fit bombs with Permissive Action Links - or PALs - which would prevent them being armed unless the right code was sent.
PALs were introduced in the 1960s in America to prevent a mad General or pilot launching a nuclear war off their own bat - the Dr Strangelove scenario.
President Kennedy ordered that every American nuclear bomb should be fitted with a PAL.
The correct code had to be transmitted by the US Chiefs of Staff and dialled into the Bomb before it could be armed otherwise it would not detonate.
Papers at the National Archive show that as early as 1966 an attempt was made to impose PAL security on British nuclear weapons.
The Chief Scientific Adviser Solly Zuckerman formally advised the Defence Secretary Denis Healey that Britain needed to install Permissive Action Links on its nuclear weapons to keep them safe.
"The Government will need to be certain that any weapons deployed are under some form of 'ironclad' control".
The Royal Navy argued that officers of the Royal Navy as the Senior Service could be trusted:
"It would be invidious to suggest... that Senior Service officers may, in difficult circumstances, act in defiance of their clear orders".
Neither the Navy nor the RAF installed PAL protection on their nuclear weapons.
The RAF kept their unsafeguarded bombs at airbases until they were withdrawn in 1998.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Scary Cold War Stuff
From the BBC: