Wednesday, 26 September 2018

how about a nice game of chess?

Undisclosed until well after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and at a time of severely deteriorated relations seeded with deep distrust and suspicion that a first-strike on the part of the United States was eminent, on this day in 1983 duty officer Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov (*1939 - †2017) correctly assessed that reports from the early warning satellite network were a false alarm and thus averted an accidental counter-attack.
Despite heightened tensions and hair-trigger attitudes, Petrov appreciated the gravity of his decision and questioned the reliability of the new system and judged that the five missile signatures detected not to be of the calibre of an offensive, which likely would have been comprised of hundreds of warheads launched simultaneously, in accordance with the policy of mutually assured destruction. Subsequent investigations showed that the system was detecting glints of sunlight reflected on high-altitude clouds.