When it comes to nukes, the general perception is that they are the most guarded war arsenal. But a new revelation that the launch code for US nukes was “00000000” for 20 years, suggests otherwise.
The revelation has been made by Steven M. Bellovin, a computer science professor at Columbia. According to Bellovin, he discovered the shocking fact in a paper by Dr. Bruce G. Blair, a former Air Force officer.
The launch codes were apparently meant to empower the US President with the control of the nukes. They were devised when Greek and Turkey went up in arms against each other in 1963 – 1964. Both countries wanted to nuke each other, using the mandate of NATO alliance, of which both were a part. It was in this context that the President of the United States was finally vested with the authority to use such weapons. Startlingly enough, the launch code for the US nukes was 00000000 for 20 years.
Blair apparently was part of the security team overlooking the Minuteman silos. He reveals that the launch codes were commonly known to be just a formality and nothing more. In his own words, “Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel.”
This is certainly a haunting revelation, although one hopes that there were other security measures in place which weren’t as ineffective and casually used as the launch codes.