Read This Dire Warning from Russia’s Great Nuclear Warrior
Valery Yarynich developed the Cold War's deadliest nuclear deterrence system ... then blew the whistle on it
C3: Nuclear Command, Control Cooperation is a seminal work in the field of nuclear deterrence. The 150-page book, first published in 2003, details the unique problems facing America, Russia and the other nuclear powers in the modern age.
“Today, we are facing an obvious absurdity,” author Valery Yarynich wrote in the introduction. “On the one hand … the United States and Russia have become unprecedentedly open with each other, exchanging information that used to be completely secret during the Cold War.”
“Now publicly accessible computer databases include information about the various types of American and Russian ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads, their numbers, characteristics, location, design bureaus and production facilities … The results of such decisive steps is evident: the process of nuclear arms reduction had started and is successfully continuing.”
But Yarynich argued that simple arms reduction and transparency about amounts and manufacturing isn’t enough. “Absolute secrecy reigns when it comes to command and control of nuclear weapons.”
“Two issues are of greatest importance here,” he explained. “First, what measures have been taken by the nuclear powers against accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons, and how reliable are those measures? Second, what is the ideology for hypothetical authorized deployment of nuclear weapons?”
He’s not wrong. America and other countries are both modernizing their nuclear forces and reducing the number of nuclear weapons … but the question still remains: do the superpowers have a strategy for world’s deadliest weapons?
Yarynich isn’t an idealist or a dreamer. “Since these weapons exist, and are likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future, there must be a clear system of action for national command authorities and combat duty crews in all lives of crisis situations,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately, cooperation in this field between Russia, the United States and other nuclear powers is practically nonexistent.”
C3 is an examination of those questions, a look at what’s known about America and Russia’s nuclear command structures and suggestions for better strategies. The book has been out of print for a long time. It’s hard to find, even on auction sites such as eBay.
Thankfully, the folks over at Arms Control Wonk just scanned and published the work — in its entirety — on Scribd. What was once an obscure classic is now free to read for everyone. Isn’t the Internet grand?
C3 isn’t just important because of the questions it attempts to answer, but because of who wrote it. Valery Yarynich, who died in 2012, wasn’t just some pesky Russian dissident. He was a Soviet communications specialist during the Cold War who helped perfect many systems he would later come to regret.
In the mid 1980s, Yarynich worked on the Soviet’s Perimeter system. Perimeter — also called Dead Hand — ensured Moscow’s ability to send a massive retaliatory nuclear strike should a first strike wipe out the Soviet leadership.
Yarynich spent so much time developing deadly nuclear strategies and systems that he came to despise them. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he blew the whistle on Dead Hand and spend the rest of his life campaigning for transparency around Russia and America’s nuclear command and control procedures.
“Nuclear weapons should not be viewed as a political instrument,” he wrote in the conclusion of C3. But unlike so many other nuclear critics, Yarynich tried to show the world a better way forward — one grounded in reality.