On September 26, 1983, Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov received a message that five nuclear missiles had been launched by the United States and were heading to Moscow. He didn’t launch a retaliatory strike, believing correctly that it was a false alarm. And with that, he saved the world from nuclear war. But now reports have surfaced that Petrov died this past May. He was 77 years old.
“I realized that I had to make some kind of decision, and I was only 50/50,” Petrov told the AP. The responsibility was enormous. If he had judged it a real launch, the top Soviet military brass and the Kremlin would have had no time for extra analysis in a few minutes left before the incoming nuclear-tipped missiles hit Soviet territory. They would have likely ordered a retaliatory strike, triggering a nuclear war.
Stanislav Petrov, who saved the world from a possible nuclear war, dies at 77 . Watch this video below.
“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,” Petrov said.
“There was no rule about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike. But we knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time; that the Soviet Union’s military and political leadership needed to be informed without delay,” he told the BBC.
The man who prevented the possible nuclear war. Watch this video below.
The false alarm was later determined to have been caused by a malfunction of the satellite, which mistook the reflection of the sun off high clouds for a missile launch. Petrov was not rewarded for his actions. In fact, he received a reprimand for failing to correctly fill the duty log and retired from the military the following year.
Below is a photo of Stanislav Petrov.
Here is more from twitter on this story.
— Reuben philip mathew (@rebenpm) September 20, 2017
RIP Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet officer who in 1983 decided that a computer warning of an American ICBM strike was a false alarm. https://t.co/8Ljs1Xs6N2
— Bradley Peniston (@navybook) September 18, 2017
Stanislav Petrov, who didn't nuke US, has died. That it wasn't known for 4 months shows how underappreciated he is https://t.co/LQ6ux3xow5
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) September 18, 2017
Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet missile officer who prevented nuclear war in '83, has died at 77.
Pour one out, fellas.
— Kleo (@KleoXII) September 19, 2017
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) September 20, 2017
Stanislav Petrov, Soviet Officer Who Helped Avert Nuclear War, Is Dead at 77 https://t.co/vTbrn9IW75
— Maureen Shea (@msnbme) September 20, 2017
Having only 20 minutes to act, Petrov decided to regard the warnings as a false alarm. Instead of informing the military about an impending nuclear strike, he told his superiors about a system malfunction. Petrov died on May 19 at his home in Moscow. News of his death emerged this month when Karl Schumacher, a German filmmaker who brought Petrov’s tale of nuclear near-miss to light, called to wish the retired officer a happy birthday. Schumacher was told by Petrov’s son, Dimitri, that he had died in May.