The Russian automatic nuclear-control system 'Dead Hand'. How does it work

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A RIA Novosti contributor explains how Perimeter, the Russian automatic nuclear-control system dubbed 'Dead Hand,' actually works.

BUCHAREST, 24 aug — Sputnik. The Russia's nuclear shield has continued to improve since the launch, from the Soviet cosmodrome Baikonur, of the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), exactly 60 years ago, RIA Novosti contributor Alexander Khrolenko writes.

Currently, Russia's most powerful ICBM R-36M2 Voyevoda (SS-18 Mod 5) is capable of carrying 10 combat units with a capacity of 170 kilotons to a distance of up to 15,000 kilometers (9,320 mi).

The domestic nuclear deterrent system which is comprised of land, sea and aerial means of delivery of nuclear charges has become even more complicated. Referring to the famous Perimeter System, also known as the Dead Hand, the journalist stresses that Russia's nuclear triad guarantees the annihilation of a potential aggressor under any circumstances, "even in the event of the death of the country's top leadership".

The system was designed as a response to the US strategic doctrine of a "decapitation strike" aimed at destroying a hostile country's leadership in order to neutralize its capacity for nuclear retaliation, according to

Alexander Khrolenko explains how the system works.

"Whilst on duty, stationary and mobile control centers [of the system] are assessing seismic activity, radiation level, air pressure and temperature; monitoring military radio frequencies and registering the intensity of communications; keeping a close watch on missile early warning system data," Khrolenko details.

The system can autonomously make a decision about a retaliatory nuclear attack in case the country's leadership is unable to activate the combat regime. Perimeter's autonomous control and command system is based on artificial intelligence software.

Western military analysts dubbed the system 'Dead Hand', given the fact that there is no way to neutralize, shut down or destroy the Perimeter system.

Khrolenko adds that, after the end of the Cold War, the Russian "doomsday machine" was removed from combat duty. But the United States and its allies did not appreciate this gesture and "began to actively create the world of 'American exceptionalism', with NATO proceeding to move closer to Russian borders". Therefore, in December 2011 the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, Sergei Karakaev, announced that the Perimeter system was in operation again.

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