Chapter 23, in which the General Secretary green lights missiles in Cuba
PLANTING THE SEED
“The goal is to be fully operational by October. The sleeper cells will be alerted and can be activated on less than 24-hours’ notice. That leaves the question of the diversion.”
The General Secretary has listened patiently to the briefing of young Yevgeny Kasparanov. Indeed, he let his mind wander at times. The details Kasparanov has been providing have been on his desk for some time now, a pleasing result of a pervasive if at times clumsy internal security apparatus. Kasparanov’s diversion plan is another matter. With the exception of recordings of Kasparanov’s charming, innocuous conversations with his wife, the General Secretary has no advance information on what this section of the briefing will reveal. He sharpens his focus as the young man continues.
“Simply stated, I propose that the Soviet Union deliver for immediate operational posture a strategically significant number of intermediate range missiles armed with nuclear warheads to Cuba.”
Kasparanov pauses. He can see he has the full attention of the General Secretary, so he continues.
“Such a delivery will undoubtedly consume the attention of America’s military complex, its civilian and military intelligence agencies, and its political leadership at all levels of government. They will have no choice, due to domestic and international political pressure, to call on all of their resources to manage the widest range of potential responses to the existential threat posed by the delivery, installation, and activation of these weapons of mass destruction. At that moment, using the missiles as a highly credible diversion, we can with relative ease and with little chance of detection or apprehension, insert via simple pressurized containers into six metropolitan areas the reengineered strain for maximum effect with minimum risk, expense, and effort.”
The General Secretary sits silently for a moment. He glances at the map on his office wall. He stares at Kasparanov for what seems to the young man like an eternity. Kasparanov, who can feel his heartbeat in his throat, knows this moment is the most important one in his career, perhaps his life. Finally, the General Secretary speaks.
“You have found a thorn, perhaps the most deadly of thorns, and you have found a way to twist that thorn, and to focus all of the Americans’ attention on the pain caused by that thorn. Your solution is brilliant. I’ll relay your briefing to our military commanders. They will balk initially, but you can consider your plan approved. You are to remain at all times available. No detail can be overlooked. You will work on nothing else until the moment of deployment of both mission and diversion. I will see to it that you are undisturbed.”
“Thank you for your confidence. I will do my utmost to demonstrate it is not misplaced.”
“I know you will. If this plan of yours fails, we’ll both be looking for work, or for our heads!”
Kasparanov shudders at the mental image of two decapitated men wandering aimlessly, searching for their severed heads, one of which is his.