The Daily Pick

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Man Who Didn't Destroy the World

Stanislav Petrov was the commander in charge of launching the USSR's nuclear weapons. On September 26th, 1983, the alarms in his bunker went off, and his computer indicated that five American nuclear missiles were headed towards Russia.

The protocol told him to launch the weapons. It was not an easy thing to ignore the protocol. Why not? Because he actually wrote it. This was all just a few weeks after Soviet forces had shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007. Whether that made Petrov more jumpy, indicated a response from western forces, or caused him to be sure about what he was supposed to do, he's not sure. But in any case, he waited.

Am I out of the loop? I hadn't heard of this before. Say what you want about whether the Cold War was overblown or what-have-you. This guy had the green light to destroy the world, and he decided to wait.

Stories from:

MosNews, The Washington Post, The Moscow News, Wikipedia, and finally, which has a timeline of events and a great audio clip from Petrov about how he remembers that day. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
posted by The Daily Pick at 2:48 AM


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