September 26, 2018

Stanislav Petrov Day

On this day in 1983, Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov (1939–2017), who was the duty officer at the Soviet Union’s command center for the Oko nuclear early-warning system, likely saved the world from nuclear war. The system he was monitoring indicated that six missiles had been launched from the United States targeted at the Soviet Union. In September 1983, relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were tense, and a nuclear attack, though unlikely, was not inconceivable.

For a variety of reasons, Petrov guessed that the alarm was false. He was, of course, correct, and he did not report an attack to his superiors. It is feared that, given the political tensions of the time, Soviet leaders might well have launched a counterattack, which would have elicited a similar response from the U.S.

As it happened, the warning that Petrov received was the result of a confluence of unusual circumstances misinterpreted by a relatively new monitoring system. He did not know this, however, and his failure to report an American attack may well have saved the world from nuclear holocaust. The incident ultimately resulted in changes to the Soviet early warning system.

Petrov received little recognition in his native Russia but has received a number of awards from the West. More information about him and his heroic inaction can be found on Wikipedia.

On this day, it is appropriate that we offer a moment of silence or prayer in thanksgiving for Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov.

Stanislav Petrov
Stanislav Petrov in 2016 (photo by Queery-54)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are not allowed. All comments are moderated by the author. Gratuitous profanity, libelous statements, and commercial messages will be not be posted.