World History Moment: The Biggest False Alarm

In this Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 photo former Soviet missile defense forces officer Stanislav Petrov poses for a photo at his home in Fryazino, Moscow region, Russia. On Sept. 26, 1983, despite the data coming in from the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellites over the United States, Petrov, a Soviet military officer, decided to consider it a false alarm. If he had decided otherwise, the Soviet leadership could have responded by ordering a retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States.
In this Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 photo former Soviet missile defense forces officer Stanislav Petrov poses for a photo at his home in Fryazino, Moscow region, Russia. On Sept. 26, 1983, despite the data coming in from the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellites over the United States, Petrov, a Soviet military officer, decided to consider it a false alarm. If he had decided otherwise, the Soviet leadership could have responded by ordering a retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States. Pavel Golovkin / AP Photo
In this Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 photo former Soviet missile defense forces officer Stanislav Petrov poses for a photo at his home in Fryazino, Moscow region, Russia. On Sept. 26, 1983, despite the data coming in from the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellites over the United States, Petrov, a Soviet military officer, decided to consider it a false alarm. If he had decided otherwise, the Soviet leadership could have responded by ordering a retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States.
In this Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 photo former Soviet missile defense forces officer Stanislav Petrov poses for a photo at his home in Fryazino, Moscow region, Russia. On Sept. 26, 1983, despite the data coming in from the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellites over the United States, Petrov, a Soviet military officer, decided to consider it a false alarm. If he had decided otherwise, the Soviet leadership could have responded by ordering a retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States. Pavel Golovkin / AP Photo

World History Moment: The Biggest False Alarm

In September of 1983, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were strained. That’s in part what led to one of history’s most famous false alarms in an underground bunker in Moscow.

Historian John Schmidt tells us the story of the missile, the computer glitch and Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov.