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Right Intention: Nuclear Attack Averted

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Nuclear Attack Averted

I wonder how many times something like this happened during the Cold War?

Petrov was in charge of the secret bunker where a team of 120 technicians and military officers monitored the Soviet Union's early-warning system. It was just after midnight when a new satellite array known as Oko, or The Eye, spotted five U.S. missiles heading toward Moscow. The Eye discerned that they were Minuteman II nuclear missiles.

Petrov's computer was demanding that he follow the prescribed protocol and confirm an incoming attack to his superiors. A red light on the computer that read START! kept flashing at him. And there was this baleful message: MISSILE ATTACK!

Petrov had written the emergency protocol himself, and he knew he should immediately pick up the hot line at his desk to tell his superiors that the Motherland was under attack.

He also knew that time was short. The senior political and military chiefs in the Kremlin would have only about 12 minutes to wake up, get to their phones, digest Petrov's information and decide on a counterattack.

That the Cold War ended peacefully definitely had a huge element of luck to it.

(From Powerline)


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