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Retired Soviet officer belated rewards for averting nuclear war

I have mentioned Stanislav Petrov before, and if you do not know who he is, you should, and be grateful he was ever born.

If you thought the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962 was worrying, then think again.

1983 was a lot more worrying – and a lot less publicised, until a further ten years had passed, and the collapse of the Soviet Union allowed the record to become available in 1993.

See some background reading here: Dead Hand the Soviet Union Doomsday Machine toured – SeSco

For decades, men in bunkers watched their screens and warning lights every hour of every day, waiting for the Cold War to go nuclear.

This was the situation just after midnight on September 26th, 1983.

Stanislav Petrov was the Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the Soviet Union’s early warning radar system in a bunker near Moscow.

Then it happened.

“When I first saw the alert message, I got up from my chair. All my subordinates were confused, so I started shouting orders at them to avoid panic. I knew my decision would have a lot of consequences,” Petrov recalls.

The radar was showing a single missile inbound from the United States.

Now the race was on: was it real or a computer error? His boss accepted over the phone it was a likely fault. But as soon as he hung up…

“The siren went off for a second time. Giant blood-red letters appeared on our main screen, saying START. It said that four more missiles had been launched,” Petrov continues.

To Petrov, it did not add up. Any attack by the US would have been all-out to try and cripple a Soviet response. But if they were real, he had only 30 minutes to tell his superiors before the warheads hit.

“My cozy armchair felt like a red hot frying pan and my legs went limp. I felt like I couldn’t even stand up. That’s how nervous I was when I was taking this decision,” Petrov says.

Petrov stuck to his decision, broke a Soviet military rule by not telling his superiors, and was proved right. There were no missiles.

He never had the authority to press the button himself, but how close had the world come to nuclear war?

“At that time it seemed that our country was surrounded by enemies, but was strong enough to retaliate. The Soviet Union and the USA were too strong, and our countries had too many conflicts of interest in various parts of the world,” military analyst Vladimir Evseev says.

Another day the world almost ended — RT

He has received little recognition or reward – he might even have been ‘disappeared’ for not following orders without question.

His superiors were not happy about his failure to follow procedure, and unquestioningly forward the information from the launch detectors.

Stanislav Petrov Averts a Worldwide Nuclear War – Bright Star Sound

Now, in February 2012:

Most people become heroes for doing things. Stanislav Petrov became one through having the courage to do nothing – in the face of a potential nuclear threat.

­The retired Russian Lieutenant Colonel has picked up a major humanitarian accolade, the German Media Prize, for preventing possible catastrophic all-out conflict. The previous recipients of the award include Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, and the Dalai Lama.

Retired Soviet officer rewarded for averting nuclear war — RT

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February 27, 2012 - Posted by | Cold War | , , ,

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