Able Archer – The military exercise that almost started World War 3 – a look in the archives

In 1986 Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev said “Never perhaps, in the post-war decades has the situation in the world been explosive and hence more difficult and unfavourable as in the first half of the 1980s.”

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He was referring to a period of immense tension between the Soviet Union and NATO when in 1983 a NATO exercise called Able Archer was believed to have almost accidentally started World War 3.

We delve into the Able Archer archives to talk about the most recent documents with  Francesca Akhtar, a researcher whose main research interests are US Cold War foreign policy, intelligence history and defence.

Francesca has written a dissertation entitled  “The most dangerous Soviet-American confrontation since the Cuban Missile Crisis?” An analysis of the origins, nature, and impact of the Able Archer 83 incident. Regular listeners will remember that Francesca talked about Able Archer 83 previously in Episode 19.

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View the actual intelligence briefing documents here 


Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War

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