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Siberian pipeline sabotage

Siberian pipeline sabotage

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The Siberian pipeline sabotage refers to the alleged 1982 sabotage of the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Urengoy
Urengoy
Urengoy is an urban locality in Purovsky District of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia. Population: Urengoy gas field was named after the settlement....

Surgut
Surgut
Surgut is a city in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia, located on the Ob River near its junction with the Irtysh River, the largest in the autonomous okrug and the second largest in Tyumen Oblast. Population:...

Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk is a city and the administrative center of Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, located in the northwestern side of the oblast, south of Yekaterinburg, just to the east of the Ural Mountains, on the Miass River. Population: -History:...

 natural gas pipeline by the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 as a part of a policy to counter Soviet theft of American technology.

Background


The Trans-Siberian Pipeline, as planned, would have a level of complexity that would require advanced automated control software, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA
SCADA
SCADA generally refers to industrial control systems : computer systems that monitor and control industrial, infrastructure, or facility-based processes, as described below:...

). The pipeline used plans for a sophisticated control system and its software that had been stolen from a Canadian firm by the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

. The CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 allegedly had the company insert a logic bomb
Logic bomb
A logic bomb is a piece of code intentionally inserted into a software system that will set off a malicious function when specified conditions are met...

 in the program for sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 purposes, eventually resulting in an explosion with the power of three kilotons of TNT.

The CIA was tipped off to the Soviet intentions to steal the control system plans by documents in the Farewell Dossier
Farewell Dossier
The Farewell dossier was the collection of documents that Colonel Vladimir Vetrov, a KGB defector , gathered and gave to the French DST in 1981–82, during the Cold War....

. Seeking to derail their efforts, CIA director William J. Casey
William J. Casey
William Joseph Casey was the Director of Central Intelligence from 1981 to 1987. In this capacity he oversaw the entire United States Intelligence Community and personally directed the Central Intelligence Agency ....

 followed the counsel of economist Gus Weiss and a disinformation strategy was initiated to sell the Soviets deliberately flawed designs for stealth technology and space defense. Working with the Canadian firm that designed the pipeline control software, the CIA had the designers deliberately create flaws in the programming so that the Soviets would only get a compromised program. It is claimed that in June 1982, flaws in the stolen software led to a massive explosion of part of the pipeline.

National Security Council
United States National Security Council
The White House National Security Council in the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the...

 staffer Thomas C. Reed
Thomas C. Reed
Thomas Care Reed was the 11th Secretary of the Air Force from January 2, 1976 - April 6, 1977 under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.-Early life:...

 documented the operation in his book, At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War
At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War
At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War is an autobiographical book about Thomas C. Reed's experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory through his time as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan. It reveals new details about the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the Central Intelligence...

. In 2004, Reed, a former Air Force secretary of the Reagan administration
Reagan Administration
The United States presidency of Ronald Reagan, also known as the Reagan administration, was a Republican administration headed by Ronald Reagan from January 20, 1981, to January 20, 1989....

, wrote that they had added a Trojan horse
Trojan horse (computing)
A Trojan horse, or Trojan, is software that appears to perform a desirable function for the user prior to run or install, but steals information or harms the system. The term is derived from the Trojan Horse story in Greek mythology.-Malware:A destructive program that masquerades as a benign...

 to equipment that the Soviet Union obtained from a company in Canada. When the components were deployed on a Trans-Siberian gas pipeline, the Trojan horse led to a huge explosion, according to Reed. As Reed explained, "The pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire, to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds. The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space."

The explosion was, in fact, so large that the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 received warning from U.S. early-warning satellites of a bizarre event in a remote area of the Soviet Union. NORAD had initially feared that the event was a missile launch from an area previously not known to host missile launching facilities.

As the explosion occurred in a remote area, no casualties are known to have resulted.

Raised doubts


Some have called Reed's account into question. A report in the Moscow Times quotes a KGB veteran as saying that there was, in fact, a natural gas pipeline explosion in 1982, but it was near Tobolsk
Tobolsk
Tobolsk is a town in Tyumen Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tobol and Irtysh Rivers. It is a historic capital of Siberia. Population: -History:...

 on a pipeline connecting the Urengoy gas field
Urengoy gas field
The Urengoy gas field in the northern West Siberia Basin is the world's second largest natural gas field after South Pars / North Dome Gas-Condensate field. The gas field has over ten trillion cubic meters in total deposits...

 to the city of Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk is a city and the administrative center of Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, located in the northwestern side of the oblast, south of Yekaterinburg, just to the east of the Ural Mountains, on the Miass River. Population: -History:...

, and it was caused by poor construction rather than sabotage. According to him no one was killed in the explosion and the damage was repaired within one day.

Since the declassification of the "Farewell Dossier
Farewell Dossier
The Farewell dossier was the collection of documents that Colonel Vladimir Vetrov, a KGB defector , gathered and gave to the French DST in 1981–82, during the Cold War....

" in 1996, an analysis has emerged on CIA's website, explaining that the CIA fed much defective technology to the Soviets, including a reference to the fact that "flawed turbines were installed on a gas pipeline" but does not state whether the flawed turbine was involved in any explosion.

See also

  • List of pipeline accidents
  • Trans-Siberian Pipeline
  • Urengoy gas field
    Urengoy gas field
    The Urengoy gas field in the northern West Siberia Basin is the world's second largest natural gas field after South Pars / North Dome Gas-Condensate field. The gas field has over ten trillion cubic meters in total deposits...

  • Ufa train disaster
    Ufa train disaster
    The Ufa train disaster was an explosion on the Kuybyshev Railway on June 4, 1989 at 1:15 in the Soviet Union, about 50 kilometers from the city of Ufa...

    , a similar pipeline explosion.

External links