In 2015 the Intelligence Community declassified The 1983 Soviet “War Scare” — the definitive report by the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board on how and why the USSR nearly launched a preemptive nuclear strike during the NATO theater nuclear exercise ABLE ARCHER-83, held in November 1983.
For months prior to ABLE ARCHER-83, Moscow warned vociferously that deploying U.S. missiles to European NATO would result in World War III.
Washington dismissed Soviet threats as “bluster” to frighten NATO into non-deployment of these first theater nuclear missiles with range to reach Moscow. After all, Soviet SS-20 missiles posed a far greater threat to NATO.
And ABLE ARCHER-83 was routine. The only thing new was the exercise would include the new nuclear missiles.
We did not know it then, but subsequent analysis proved Moscow misconstrued ABLE ARCHER-83 as cover for a surprise nuclear attack. The USSR prepared a surprise of their own — a preemptive nuclear strike, which they very nearly launched, and almost certainly would have done so if the exercise continued another 24 hours.
Many analysts regard the 1983 Soviet war scare as more dangerous than the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis