CIA Trojan Causes Siberian Gas Pipeline Explosion

Event Year: 1982 Reliability: Likely But Unconfirmed
Country: Russian Federation
Industry Type: Petroleum

Thomas Reed, senior US national security official, claims in his book “At The Abyss” that the United States allowed the USSR to steal pipeline control software from a Canadian company. This software included a Trojan Horse that caused a major explosion of the Trans-Siberian gas pipeline in June, 1982. The Trojan ran during a pressure test on the pipeline but doubled the usual pressure, causing the explosion. (#1, #2)

“In order to disrupt the Soviet gas supply, its hard currency earnings from the West, and the internal Russian economy, the pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines, and valves was programmed to go haywire, after a decent interval, to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to pipeline joints and welds,” Reed writes. (#3)

The scheme to plant bugs in Soviet software was masterminded by Gus Weiss, who at the time was on the National Security Council and who died last year. Soviet agents had been so keen to acquire US technology, they didn’t question its provenance. (#4)

Russian newspaper sources deny the report, saying an explosion did take place, but it was caused by poor construction, not by planted software. “What the Americans have written is rubbish,” said Vasily Pchelintsev, who in 1982 headed the KGB office in the Tyumen region, the likely site of the explosion described in the book.” (#5)


The software sabotage had two effects, explains Reed. The first was economic. By creating an explosion with the power of a three kiloton nuclear weapon, the US disrupted supplies of gas and consequential foreign currency earnings. But the project also had important psychological advantages in the battle between the two superpowers.

“By implication, every cell of the Soviet leviathan might be infected,” Reed writes. “They had no way of knowing which equipment was sound, which was bogus. All was suspect, which was the intended endgame for the entire operation.”