Photos of Colonel Valery Yarynich in Sydney Australia in August2012 below this text
is my melancholy duty to have to inform you (see appended email from
Steven Starr), that his and my colleague, Colonel Valery Yarynich,
formerly of the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces, died 13/12/12 in a hospital in Moscow. He is survived by a wife and two
I last saw Colonel Yarynich in Sydney Australia, last
August, as I organised a speaking tour for him. The tour was highly
successful, and there was time for him 'to see Kangaroos and emus in
Gosford' and for a leisurely train trip to and from Canberra, where he
met with officers of DFAT, and former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth
Evans. The Australian trip involved speaking engagements with the
Australian Institute of International Affairs, The Lowy Institute, the
Centre for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, the Centre for
Peace and Conflict Studies and the Hiroshima Day Committee. It also
generated a number of media interviews, notably with Late Night Live and
ABC-TV (various programs), and SBS. He made p2 of the Sydney Morning
Colonel Yarynich in his earlier life, was deeply involved
in the Soviet nuclear command and control system. He played a crucial
part in the operationalisation of the 'doomsday machine' or second -
strike system known as 'Perimitr'. In his later life since retiring
from active service, he was very much involved in the campaign to lower
the operational readiness of nuclear weapon systems, taking a crucial
role in the Foreign Affairs article 'One Hundred Nuclear Wars', in which
100 simulations of nuclear war are done, showing that arguments that
there might be a 'destabilising' 're-alerting race' if nuclear weapons
in the US and Russia are taken off high alert, are in fact incorrect.
Colonel Valery's contribution has been to show this with statistical
rigor. He also published widely.
I knew Colonel Valery only in
the last years of his life, and it was my privelige to have been with
him pretty much continuously during the last period in which he
continued to promote de-alerting. On the day before he left Australia,
he mentioned almost casually, that he was due to go into hospital as
soon as he arrived in Moscow. I had replied something like 'then I hope
that after that we meet again in Moscow'. Months later, I heard that he
was in a bad situation medically, with a large tumour that had to be
operated. I then had an email from him that sounded quite cheerful and
hopeful. Then another silence, and an email saying the operation had
taken place and he was weak. Then yesterday an email saying he had
passed away. So we never got to see each other.
Colonel Valery is not
replaceable. As someone with nuts - and - bolts experience in Soviet
nuclear command and control, who had come to see the necessity both to
get rid of nuclear weapons and to lower their operational status, he was
unique. He was in a way, a 'doctor strangelove' who had come in from
the cold. Such people are rare and irreplaceable. A chance conversation
with him in an anonymous cafe in Vienna over a beer led to the setting
up in Sydney of the 'Human Survival Project', dedicated to the task of
ensuring that decades down the track we are all still here to tackle
other problems of global justice, global warming, etc etc, by reducing
or eliminating the risks of a self - made nuclear apocalypse.
most poignant memory of him comes from a four- hour train trip to and
from Australia's capital, Canberra. He pressed his face close to the
window, outside of which rolled a benign landscape with patches of
Australian bush and green fields with cows and horses. He sighed, and
said something like 'It's so beautiful. I wish I did not have to think
of terrible things all the time'.
Those of us left will still
have to deal with those terrible, world-destroying, issues that were
your life. We salute you, Colonel Yarynich.
----- Forwarded Message -----
>Sent: Thursday, 13 December 2012 5:10 PM
>Subject: Colonel Valery
>I have some very sad news. Valery had been returned to the ICU, and today he passed away.
>I will ask about his family and pass on any information I receive.