National Security Archive: The 1983 War Scare: "The Last Paroxysm" of the Cold War

 

The 1983 War Scare: "The Last Paroxysm" of the Cold War

Part III: "Rather Stunning Array of Indicators" of the Soviet Reaction to Able Archer 83 had "A Dimension of Genuineness … Often Not Reflected in Intelligence Issuances."

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 428

PART 3 OF 3 POSTINGS
Posted — May 22, 2013

Edited by Nate Jones
Assisted by Lauren Harper

For more information contact:
Nate Jones 202/994-7000 or
foiadesk@gwu.edu

Washington, D.C., May 22, 2013 — President Ronald Reagan weighed the "rather stunning array of indicators" reported by the U.S. intelligence community during the 1983 War Scare and concluded — although the intelligence community remained divided — that "maybe they [the Soviets] are scared of us & think we are a threat. I’d like to go face to face & explore this with them," according to documents posted today by the National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org).

To mark the 30th anniversary of the War Scare, the National Security Archive has posted, over three installments, the most complete online collection of declassified U.S. documents, material from the now-closed Russian archives, and contemporary interviews on the 1983 War Scare. Earlier postings examined Soviet claims that they were genuinely fearful of a Western nuclear attack in 1983, and published, for the first time, official NATO and Air Force summaries of Able Archer 83, a NATO nuclear release exercise conducted at the crux of the War Scare that included new elements that raised the possibility of nuclear war "through miscalculation."

Today’s final posting examines the U.S. intelligence community’s analysis and reaction to data showing that Able Archer 83 spurred "a high level of Soviet military activity, with new deployments of weapons and strike forces." This unprecedented Soviet reaction in turn created a series of introspective U.S. intelligence analyses and counter-analyses, spanning from November 15, 1983 to February 15, 1990, debating whether the U.S. intelligence had actually understood Soviet actions, perceptions, and fears — and acknowledging the danger of nuclear "miscalculation" if it had not.

Check out today’s posting at the National Security Archive website – http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB428/

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