Booby Trap

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Since a big theme of the China trade talks has been their brazen theft of our technology, I thought I’d share a little something I stumbled upon in Quora. The question being posed was: what was the most successful CIA operation? The answer is below, and I find it clever and amusing.

The 1982 gas pipeline explosion in Tobolsk.

The KGB was stealing western technology for years. So the CIA ‘allowed’ the Soviets to steal pipeline control software that ran the pumps, valves, etc of pipelines. The CIA had inserted a few lines of Trojan Horse code into the software first. The pipelines ran fine for about a year, then a huge explosion rocked Siberia, as pumps suddenly turned on to the highest pressures possible and electronic valves slammed shut.

The explosion registered on seismographs and satellites worldwide. The Air Force monitoring the data first thought it was 3 kiloton nuclear detonation. The results of the explosion were far reaching and long lasting. The USSR had to discontinue natural gas sales to Europe for several months until the system was rebuilt (losing a main source of western currency). The Soviets then had to suspect every piece of software and technology they stole from the West, since they could not be sure how much of it was booby-trapped.

That event is considered one of the major dominoes that eventually led to the implosion of the Soviet economy and the collapse of the USSR.