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Nuclear password to start World War III - was 00000000

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's remarkable - and just a little ironic, that at one time the nuclear pass code to begin World War III on the side of the United States and its allies was eight zeroes - 00000000. Those terrifying digits in the 20th century had the capacity to reduce the living population to zero.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In an era when many people aren't very good at coming up with numerical passwords for their computers or banking, "00000000" was all it took to destroy the world. 

Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, in the 1960s, concerned about nuclear security, had "technical locks" placed on the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles to prevent unauthorized deployment.

In response, the Strategic Air Command, or SAC in Omaha decided to set the "locks" to all zeros in order to circumvent this safeguard.

One person who served as a Minuteman launch officer claims that this was still the case in the early to mid-1970s. "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.

"SAC remained far less concerned about unauthorized launches than about the potential of these safeguards to interfere with the implementation of wartime launch orders." So during the Cold War era, the "secret unlock code" remained constant at 00000000.

Among other tidbits about these era that have since come to light has been the fact that the British RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by using a bicycle lock key!

"To arm the weapons you just open a panel held by two captive screws - like a battery cover on a radio - using a thumbnail or a coin. Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which you can turn with an Allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or ground burst and other parameters," an article posted on Reddit reads.

"The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees. There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb."

In related Cold War paranoia, it was 30 long years ago that the world plopped down around the TV set to watch the nuclear doomsday drama "The Day After" on ABC-TV. The telecast was reported to have had an effect on then-U. S. President Ronald Reagan, who began to scale down his anti-Soviet Union accordingly.

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