§ 80. Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what action was taken by British forces during the recent mistakes made by the American forces and their computer which resulted in a false alarm of possible nuclear attack; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Winnick
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations have taken place with the United States of America authorities on the false nuclear alert at the end of last week: and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Robert Atkins
asked the Secretary of State for Defence at what stage he was informed of the mistaken nuclear alert on or around 12 November; if he is satisfied that British forces were kept informed throughout: and if he will make a statement.647W
§ Mr. Pym
On Friday 9 November the North American Air Defence Command Headquarters were running a test programme on the ballistic missile early warning system computers. For reasons which the United States authorities are now investigating a test tape simulating a missile attack against North America was incorrectly transmitted. This automatically resulted in an alert being registered on the displays of the United Kingdom ballistic missile early warning station at Fylingdales and at United Kingdom operations centres. The error was detected within seconds, and confirmed by the United States command within a minute of the receipt of the alert signal, and I was subsequently informed.
As the immediate discovery of the error in this case shows, there are sufficient checks in the early warning system.