The Soviet Doomsday Device In Detail
The Soviets and Americans had a theory known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) that meant neither side would be able to ‘win’ a nuclear war. In the 1980s when the Regan administration started basing Pershing missiles in Germany, launching untraceable Trident SSBNs and designing stealth bombers and cruise missiles while simultaneously working on Star Wars; it appeared that the West could actually win a nuclear exchange by hitting the Soviets first and hard enough to decapitate and blind it.
This scared the borscht out of the Soviets and they started to look for ways around this preemptive strike. The plan was called Perimeter and nicknamed “Mertvaya Ruka” or Dead Hand. It was a doomsday weapon that would automatically go into effect as a backup if the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces lost communication with the Kremlin.
Nicholas Thompson at Wired Magazine interviews a former Soviet Colonel about all of the details in this great article.