six weeks in September and October were the most dangerous the world has ever experienced. A false nuclear strike alert on September 26, 1983 was caused by nothing more than high-altitude clouds that had been picked up by a satellite’s sensors and interpreted as missiles in flight. Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant-colonel in the military intelligence section of the Soviet Union’s secret service, may have prevented all out nuclear war between the US and the USSR, the paper marks. Instead of calling an alert that within minutes would have had Soviet missiles launched in a retaliatory strike, Petrov decided to wait and the warning lights went off.
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