Siberian pipeline sabotage

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The Siberian pipeline sabotage refers to the alleged 1982 sabotage of the Soviet UrengoySurgutChelyabinsk natural gas pipeline by the CIA as a part of a policy to counter Soviet theft of Canadian technology.


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). The pipeline used plans for a sophisticated control system and its software that had been stolen from a Canadian firm by the KGB. The CIA allegedly had the company insert a logic bomb in the program for sabotage purposes, eventually resulting in an explosion with the power of three kilotons of TNT.[1]

The CIA was tipped off to the Soviet intentions to steal the control system plans by documents in the Farewell Dossier, a document collection provided by KGB defector Vladimir Vetrov. Seeking to derail their efforts, CIA director William J. Casey followed the counsel of economist Gus W. Weiss[2] 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 staffer Thomas C. Reed documented the operation in his book, At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War. In 2004, Reed, a former Air Force secretary of the Reagan administration, wrote that they had added a Trojan horse 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.[3] 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."[4]

The explosion was so large that the White House 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.

Doubts raised[edit]

Some have called Reed's account into question. A report in the Moscow Times quotes a KGB veteran as saying that there was a natural gas pipeline explosion in 1982, but it was near Tobolsk on a pipeline connecting the Urengoy gas field to the city of Chelyabinsk, and it was caused by poor construction rather than sabotage; according to his account no one was killed in the explosion and the damage was repaired within one day.[5]

Since the declassification of the Farewell Dossier 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"[6] but does not state whether the flawed turbine was involved in any explosion.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Safire, William (February 2, 2004). "The Farewell Dossier". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Weiss, Gus W. "Duping the Soviets: The Farewell Dossier" (PDF). Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 6 Feb 2013. 
  3. ^ Markoff, John (October 26, 2009). "Cyberwar: Old Trick Threatens the Newest Weapons". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Reed, Thomas (2005). At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War. p. 269. ISBN 0-89141-821-0. 
  5. ^ Medetsky, Anatoly (18 March 2004). "KGB Veteran Denies CIA Caused '82 Blast". Moscow Times. 
  6. ^ "Farewell dossier" analysis (study), US: Center for the study of Intelligence, CIA, 1996 .

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