BBC: Stanislav Petrov, who averted possible nuclear war, dies at 77

September 18, 2017

“A former Soviet military officer credited with averting a possible nuclear disaster at the peak of the Cold War has died at the age of 77.

Stanislav Petrov was on duty at a Russian nuclear early warning centre in 1983 when computers wrongly detected incoming missiles from the US.

He took the decision that they were a false alarm and did not report them to his superiors.

His actions, which came to light years later, possibly prevented nuclear war.

Petrov died at his home in Moscow in May but his death has only now been made public.

In an interview with the BBC in 2013, Petrov told how he had received computer readouts in the early hours of the morning of 26 September 1983 suggesting several US missiles had been launched.

“I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it,” he said.

“All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders – but I couldn’t move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan.”

Although his training dictated he should contact the Soviet military immediately, Petrov instead called the duty officer at army headquarters and reported a system malfunction.”

Russian Intercontinental Missile crossing Red Square during the military parade in Moscow. 12 May 1965
The Soviet Union and the US had huge nuclear arsenals trained on each other during the Cold War.

 

Read more about the amazing life of Petrov on BBC