Skip to comments.Soviet Officer Wins Award for Preventing Nuclear War
Posted on 11/17/2012 3:24:00 PM PST by bigbob
A retired Soviet lieutenant colonel whose self-control prevented a nuclear war from being triggered by a long-classified accident in 1983 was named on Friday a recipient of a German anti-war prize.
Stanislav Petrov, 73, won the fourth Dresden-Preis (Dresden Prize), which comes complete with a check for 25,000 euro ($32,000), prize organizers said on their website, Friendsofdresden-deutschland.com.
The prize is to be bestowed at a ceremony in Dresden on Feb. 17, the anniversary of the Dresden bombing in 1945, the organizers said.
Ironically for a military officer, Petrov shot to fame for ignoring his direct responsibilities. The officer served at a command center of the Soviet nuclear early-warning system outside Moscow, which reported the launch of five nuclear missiles from US territory on Sept. 26, 1983.
Cold War tensions were riding high at the time, boosted by the Soviet Unions fears about the US Strategic Defense Initiative the Star Wars program and the international incident caused by the Soviet air defense shooting down a Korean passenger plane earlier in September that year.
Petrovs duty was to report the incoming missiles to his superiors, who were likely to order a snap retaliatory strike. However, he chose to ignore the report, ruling it an equipment malfunction and reckoning five missiles insufficient for a proper war.
His guess was right: an investigation proved the warning to be a false report by a monitoring satellite confused by sunlight reflecting off high-altitude clouds.
Petrov was neither promoted nor disciplined and continued his service, while the story remained classified until 1998. He later said he was denied an award because the incident was investigated by the officers responsible for the malfunction.
After the story was made public, Petrov received several international prizes. He has stubbornly denied all attempts to label him a hero, saying in an interview to The Moscow News in 2004 that he was just doing his job, at the right place at the right time.
The annual Dresden-Preis was incepted in 2010 and is awarded for anti-war effort. Recipients include the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, pianist Daniel Barenboim, active in promoting Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, and US war photographer James Nachtwey.
The United States had 13,100 strategic nuclear warheads as of 1983, and the Soviet Union 9,700.
Here's the site he did it from: http://goo.gl/maps/bpWiB
Little shiver down my spine on this one.
What would have happened if he were a Jihadi?
Ruskies will probably kill him now
That was a bone-cruncher of a decision. I’m glad he got it right.
If that’s your focus, I guess you’re very much in tune with these types of matters, and perhaps it wasn’t all that hard of a decision.
I do think he’s deserving of this award. Kudos to him.
Lately, I’ve been wishing I was back in the days of the Cold War.
Scary time, but we were on the side of the good guys and we won.
?? Was this the same time period as the KAL shootdown?
One thing that can definitely not be said of the Russians is that they are stupid. Barbaric, yes, but not stupid.
There was more than one incident which almost caused a war during that period. The soviets were an adversary, but they were rational. With our current muslim adversaries, we are not dealing with a rational actor.
Dimitry...one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well,
he went a little funny in the head... you know... just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing...
“Scary time, but we were on the side of the good guys and we won.”
And the bad guys were higher quality too. Spiffy uniforms and good choral music, as opposed to hair stubble and the smell of armpit and goat.
?? Was this the same time period as the KAL shootdown?
Conservapedia has a much improved account of this event. IMO.
SO this was a very tense time! This guy might really have saved the world.
Good for him.
But frankly it is pretty obvious that if anybody is going to launch a first strike, they’re going to do so with everything they have available.
Unless they are really, really stupid.
If so, they hide it well. Got a link?
At least during the Cold War, the bad guys had no more interest in dying than we did.
> Soviet Officer Wins Award for Preventing Nuclear War
Boyrock Hyssain Ohaha wants that award now.
This is the guy who should have received Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Obama could order a nuclear strike against Russia and cancel it 20 seconds later. Boom! Another peace prize for The Won.
That’s what I was going to say. Obama get a Nobel peace prize for nothing, this guy gets a little bit of recognition 30 years later for saving the world, literally.
Actually from what i have seen, they were somewhat irrational and paranoid around that time, , with Yuri Andropov bluntly announcing that the United States was preparing a secret nuclear attack on the USSR, and looking for anything that would confirm it.
Later, the system reported four more ICBM launches headed to the Soviet Union, but Petrov again dismissed the reports as false. The investigation that followed revealed that the system indeed malfunctioned and false alarms were caused by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds and the satellites’ orbits.
From link in above post
Now the irrational and paranoid reside in the democratic party.
And Arafat as well
There are have been more than one close calls, and it is by the grace of God that it has not happened.
Also from the linked Operation Able Archer article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83), which provides historical context and give this story of Petrov more depth:
Upon learning that US nuclear activity mirrored its hypothesized first strike activity, the Moscow Centre sent its residencies a flash telegram on November 8 or 9 (Oleg Gordievsky cannot recall which), incorrectly reporting an alert on American bases and frantically asking for further information regarding an American first strike. The alert precisely coincided with the seven- to ten-day period estimated between NATO’s preliminary decision and an actual strike. This was the peak of the war scare.
The Soviet Union, believing its only chance of surviving a NATO strike was to preempt it, readied its nuclear arsenal. The CIA reported activity in the Baltic Military District, in Czechoslovakia, and it determined that nuclear capable aircraft in Poland and East Germany were placed “on high alert status with readying of nuclear strike forces”. Former CIA analyst Peter Vincent Pry goes further, saying he suspects that the aircraft were merely the tip of the iceberg. He hypothesizes thatin accordance with Soviet military procedure and historyICBM silos, easily readied and difficult for the United States to detect, were also prepared for a launch.
Soviet fears of the attack ended as the Able Archer exercise finished on November 11. Upon learning of the Soviet reaction to Able Archer 83 by way of the double agent Oleg Gordievsky, a British SIS asset, President Reagan commented, “I don’t see how they could believe thatbut its something to think about.”
According to Vitaly Shlykov, the Soviets started arming their nuclear weapons, and war was only averted because they malfunctioned when the wrong launch codes were entered
Some historians, including Beth A. Fischer in her book The Reagan Reversal, pin Able Archer 83 as profoundly affecting President Reagan and his turn from a policy of confrontation towards the Soviet Union to a policy of rapprochement. Most other historians say that Reagan always intended to increase the United States defensive ability and then negotiate with the Soviet Union from a position of strength. The thoughts of Reagan and those around him provide important insight upon the nuclear scare and its subsequent ripples. On October 10, 1983, just over a month before Able Archer 83, President Reagan viewed a television film about Lawrence, Kansas being destroyed by a nuclear attack titled The Day After. In his diary, the president wrote that the film “left me greatly depressed”.
Later in October, Reagan attended a Pentagon briefing on nuclear war. During his first two years in office, he had refused to take part in such briefings, feeling it irreverent to rehearse a nuclear apocalypse; finally, he consented to the Pentagon official requests. According to officials present, the briefing “chastened” Reagan. Weinberg said, “[Reagan] had a very deep revulsion to the whole idea of nuclear weapons .
.. These war games brought home to anybody the fantastically horrible events that would surround such a scenario.” Reagan described the briefing in his own words: “A most sobering experience with [Caspar Weinberger] and Gen. Vessey in the Situation room, a briefing on our complete plan in the event of a nuclear attack.”..
Secretary of State George P. Shultz thought it “incredible, at least to us” that the Soviets would believe the US would launch a genuine attack. In general, Reagan did not share the secretary’s belief that cooler heads would prevail, writing:
“We had many contingency plans for responding to a nuclear attack. But everything would happen so fast that I wondered how much planning or reason could be applied in such a crisis... Six minutes to decide how to respond to a blip on a radar scope and decide whether to unleash Armageddon! How could anyone apply reason at a time like that?”
According to McFarlane, the president responded with “genuine anxiety” in disbelief that a regular NATO exercise could have led to an armed attack. To the ailing Politburoled from the deathbed of the terminally ill Andropov, a man with no firsthand knowledge of the United States, and the creator of Operation RYANit seemed “that the United States was preparing to launch ... a sudden nuclear attack on the Soviet Union”. In his memoirs, Reagan, without specifically mentioning Able Archer 83he states earlier that he cannot mention classified informationwrote of a 1983 realization:
“Three years had taught me something surprising about the Russians: Many people at the top of the Soviet hierarchy were genuinely afraid of America and Americans. Perhaps this shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did ... During my first years in Washington, I think many of us in the administration took it for granted that the Russians, like ourselves, considered it unthinkable that the United States would launch a first strike against them. But the more experience I had with Soviet leaders and other heads of state who knew them, the more I began to realize that many Soviet officials feared us not only as adversaries but as potential aggressors who might hurl nuclear weapons at them in a first strike ... Well, if that was the case, I was even more anxious to get a top Soviet leader in a room alone and try to convince him we had no designs on the Soviet Union and Russians had nothing to fear from us.”
8 part video on YouTube
1983: The Brink of Apocalypse 1/8
It was incorrect, but they were basing their beliefs on our actions. Yes, they did believe that we might launch a preemptive attack, but isn't that exactly what our own and western European media and "intelligentsia" was saying as well? That Reagan was a cowboy?
Here is a conservapedia article about the Wiki bias
Mutual misinterpretations, and the Archer op was unwise. See above (28).
But the Soviets had more of a history that warranted the lesser trust and fostered Regan’s warnings, and i doubt that if the Soviets were not opposed by us then they would have gone about conquering the world.
Sensor monitors spend enough time to know what a real return should look like in contrast to false returns from ground and cloud clutter. He did a good job.
“I guess there were at *some* Ruskies who had *some* sense of decency as well as a sense that humanity was more important than an order from some psychopathic fossil in Moscow.It sounds as if I,and all other civilized people on earth,might actually owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”
Indeed. If those idiots in Norway wished to give their peace prize to someone who really did keep the peace on this earth, they should have given it to this guy.
Yes, Petrov made a good decision.
And so did an American general in 1960.
When the newly-installed BMEWS radar detected something that looked like a ripple-fire ballistic missile launch from Russia — 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 — a general at NORAD alerted SAC, and SAC went to DEFCON 2 (prepare for immediate launch). SAC alert aircrews scrambled to their planes, started engines, and waited for the launch message.
Then the general at NORAD told SAC, “Wait! Do not launch,” because the number of missiles kept increasing beyond all reason. After about 15 minutes, the aircrews were told to shut down engines and return to their barracks. (I was a B-47 navigator at Torrejon AB, Spain)
Explanation: the new BMEWS radar at Thule, Greenland, had detected the moon rising over Russia. The computers made the radar look again every few seconds and recorded the new return(s) in addition to the previous return(s).
There was also a Russian submarine officer Arkhipov, who refused to use nuclear torpedoes against American warships during the Cuban missile crisis. If not for his refusal, I don’t know where we’d be today.
Thanks Semaj. I appreciate the mention, and your take on it.
...and the same happened on our side in Bosnia when British General Jackson refused President Clinton’s order to fire on Russian troops who held a small airfield.
Wow. Thanks for posting this.
I don’t think most people today under 40 realize just how close we came to nuclear war on multiple occasions. This is seriously scary stuff.
But by the grace of God. But rather than responding according to the benefit, we are realizing a meltdown from within: http://peacebyjesus.tripod.com/revealingstatistics.pdf
I remember this one, when it was made public. The Russians saw many dozens of heat plumes by satellite, and at the time, we were both awfully antsy. If I am not mistaken, NATO was on exercises, too, which incredibly increases tension.