Ed O'Rourke

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Copyright 2005 Ed O'Rourke, P.C.
On September 26, 1983, the world was one person’s decision away from
nuclear war. The military officer had to commit insubordination to stop an
automatic process. Tensions were high, three weeks after the Soviet
military shot down the passenger jet, Korean Air Lines flight 007, killing all
269 passengers. President Reagan called the Soviet Union “the empire of
President Reagan escalated an arms race and was pursing the Strategic
Defense Initiative (Star Wars).

NATO was beginning a military exercise Able Archer 83 which was a
thoroughly realistic rehearsal for a first strike. The KGB considered the
exercise as possible preparation for the real thing.
On September 26, 1983, Air Defense Lieutenant Coronel Stanislav Petrov
was the duty officer at the Soviet air
defense command center. His
responsibilities included monitoring the satellite early warning system and
notifying his superiors when he observed a possible missile attack against the Soviet Union.

Shortly after midnight, the computers showed that an intercontinental
ballistic missile was launched from the US and headed for the Soviet Union.

Petrov considered this a computer error since any first strike would involve several hundred missiles, not just one. Accounts differ if he contacted his superiors. Later, the computers identified four more missiles launched from the US.

Had he notified his superiors, it is entirely possible that the superiors
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