September 27, 2013
Thirty years ago, a Soviet officer prevented a nuclear war from being triggered by trusting his judgment and ignoring his direct responsibilities.
Stanislav Petrov served at a command center of the Soviet missile early-warning system outside Moscow, which reported the launch of five nuclear missiles from US territory on September 26, 1983.
Cold War tensions were riding high at the time, boosted by the Soviet Union’s fears about the US Strategic Defense Initiative – “the Star Wars program” – and the international incident caused by the Soviet air defense shooting down a Korean passenger plane earlier in September that year.
Petrov’s duty was to report the incoming missiles to his superiors, who were likely to order a snap retaliatory strike. However, he chose to ignore the report, ruling it an equipment malfunction and reckoning five missiles insufficient for a proper war.
This article was posted: Friday, September 27, 2013 at 5:09 am