Channel: Electrospaces.net
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 173

Bilateral Hotlines Worldwide

In a previous article we discussed the Washington-Moscow Hotline, being the most famous bilateral hotline. It was soon followed by direct communication links between a number of other countries with nuclear capabilities. In general these hotlines started as teletype connection, being upgraded with facsimile units in the eighties and were eventually turned into dedicated secure computer networks. An exception is the hotline between Washington and London, which was a phone line already since 1943.

These hotlines between the heads of governments, are meant to prevent (nuclear) war in times of severe crisis. For preventing misunderstandings and miscommunications in less critical situations, countries have also set up lower level telephone hotlines between their defense or foreign ministers. For example, the United States has so called Defense Telephone Links with at least 23 other states.

Overview of both top level and lower level bilateral hotlines worldwide
reflecting political and military relationships between countries
(Click for a bigger version)

- In 1963 the United States and the Soviet Union established the Direct Communications Link (DCL) or Washington-Moscow Hotline. This highly secured connection originally used teletype machines, which were replaced by facsimile units in 1988 and is using e-mail since 2008.
- In 1990 both countries agreed to establish a direct, secure telephone link between Washington and Moscow. This maybe the Direct Voice Link (DVL), which is maintained by the White House Communications Agency.

Between the US and Russia there are also the following lower level communication links:

- In 1988 the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center (NRRC) was established at the US Department of State, which is used to exchange information in support of arms control treaties. After the split-up of the Soviet Union this secure data exchange connection, called Government-to-Government Communication Link (GGCL), was extended to Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
- In 2000 the US and Russia signed an agreement for the establishement of a Joint Data Exchange Center (JDEC) to share early warning information on missile and space launches to reduce the risk that a test launch could be misread as a missile attack. It's not clear whether this center has already been realized or not.

Besides these bilateral hotlines with Russia, the United States also has the following lower level communication links with other nations:

- There is a secure telephone line called Foreign Affairs Link (FAL) between the US Department of State and Russia (since 1999), Japan, Mexico, Germany and Israel.

- There is a Defense Telephone Link (DTL) between the US Department of Defense and Russia, China (since 2008), Albania, Oman, Qatar, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Kuwait, Estonia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Bahrain, Israel (since 1996), United Arab Emirates, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic and Austria.

- In September 2011, the United States proposed opening a direct military hotline with Iran to avoid a possible conflict erupting over the Iranian nuclear program. Tehran declined the offer.

- During World War II, two decades before the hotline Washington-Moscow was established, there was a hotline between the Cabinet War Room bunker under Downing Street and the White House in Washington. From 1943-1946 this link was made secure by using the very first voice encryption machine, called SIGSALY. In the fifties and sixties the Washington-London hotline was secured by the KY-9, probably succeeded by the KY-3 voice encryption devices. Eventually, the British prime minister was directly connected to the US Defense Red Switch Network (DRSN).

- In 1969 president Nixon offered the German prime minister (Bundeskanzler) to set up a secure teletype hotline, like the US already had with Moscow and London. Earlier, president Johnson had called kanzler Erhard by using a standard phone line.

- On April 29, 1998 the United States and China signed an agreement to set up a direct telephone link between the presidents of both countries.
- On February 29, 2008 both countries agreed to set up a Defense Telephone Link (DTL) between the US Department of Defense and China’s Ministry of National Defense, which became operational in April 2008. Until 2011 this hotline was used only four times.

- A hotline connection between Moscow and Bejing was used during the 1969 frontier confrontation between the two countries. The Chinese however refused the Russian peace attempts, and informed Moscow that the direct communications link "was no longer "advantageous" and normal diplomatic channels would suffice". After a reconciliation between the former enemies, the hotline between China and Russia was revived in 1996.* It's not clear whether this hotline is for record or voice communications.
- A telephone hotline between the defence ministries of Russia and China became operational on March 14, 2008.

- Since 1966 there was a direct teletype connection between the French president and the Kremlin. In 1989 the teletype equipment was replaced by high speed facsimile units.*

- Since 1967 there was a direct teletype connection between the British prime minister and the Kremlin. In 2011 this hotline was upgraded to a better-encrypted telephone link.

- In 1989 a facsimile connection was established between the West-German capital Bonn and Moscow.* The Soviet Union also had a hotline with Erich Honecker as leader of the former East-German Republic (DDR).

- In 2009 Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak agreed to pass on relevant intelligence information immediately using a hotline, primarily to combat smuggling from Sinai into the Gaza Strip.

- In 2004 India and Pakistan agreed to set up a secure hotline between their foreign ministers, aimed at preventing misunderstandings that might lead to nuclear war.
- In 2011 both countries agreed to set up a 24/7 non-encrypted hotline between their interior ministers, that will facilitate real-time information sharing on terrorist threats. The Director-General of Military Operations of the two countries already had a hotline.

- Since 2005 there's a non-encrypted hotline between the foreign ministers of India and China for building "mutual political trust".
- In 2009 both countries agreed to set up a hotline between their prime ministers, which was meant as a confidence building measure and to maintain regular contacts at the highest level.

- There's also a non-encrypted hotline between Delhi and Moscow, which was established before 2009.

- An existing direct communication line between North and South Korea was cut off by North Korea on May 26, 2010. This hotline was reopend in January 2011, together with Red Cross communication channels.

When more information about these hotlines becomes available, it will be added here. Some of the most notable bilateral hotlines will be discussed later on this weblog.

Sources (PDF)
- National Communications System, Forty Years of Service to the Nation: 1963-2003, 2003
- Haraldur Þór Egilsson, The Origins, Use and Development of Hot Line Diplomacy, Institute Clingendael, 2003
- US Department of State, Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM), 2011

Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 173

Latest Images

Trending Articles

Latest Images