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End 'hair-trigger' alert for US, Russian nukes: study

A warning sign is seen at the entrance to a Cold War era missle base in the Everglades National Park on April 8, 2010 near Everglades City, FloridaFormer US and Russian commanders have urged their rival governments to scrap “hair-trigger” alerts on nuclear weapons to avoid a potential atomic disaster — especially in an age of cyber attacks. Retired military officers from the United States, Russia and other nuclear powers issued a report on Thursday warning of the dangers of the short fuses that allow hundreds of atomic weapons to be launched within minutes. The high alert status is a legacy of outdated Cold War doctrine, when US and Soviet leaders feared a devastating first strike that could “decapitate” an entire nuclear force, according to the report, sponsored by the disarmament group Global Zero. The growing threat of cyber assault also exacerbates the risks of the alert status, opening the way for false alarms or even a hijacking of the control systems for the weapons, it said.

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