8 Events That Brought The World to the Brink of Nuclear War

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For a time it seemed like the threat of nuclear war all but evaporated with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The cold war, we thought, was behind us. But the future does not always play itself out as we would expect, or like. Today, more nations are nuclear-capable than ever, and although nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia or between the U.S. and China may seem like the greatest threats, the possibility of smaller conflicts between countries such as India and Pakistan could also spell disaster on a global scale. The cold war between the U.S. and Soviet Union accounted for its share of near-catastrophes, some of which are listed here.

1. November 24, 1961

Sometime during the nighttime hours on the North American Continent, crucial communications channels between U.S. nuclear forces were cut off. With redundancy built into the system designed to prevent such outages, it was believed that the outage could have been caused by an enemy who was preparing a nuclear attack. Nuclear forces were placed on alert and bomber pilots were ordered to stand by on their runways for further orders. Fortunately, the problem was traced to a failure in a communications facility in Colorado where all the “redundant” circuits converged.

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