First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church

We Were Nearly Nuked 34 Years Ago!

Sitting in Northern Ireland the possibility of nuclear warfare involving the USA and North Korea, with all the consequent fallout (excuse the inappropriate pun) for their neighbours, seems somewhat remote. However, a story I came across yesterday forcefully reminds us that “mutually assured destruction” has been, is and will be part of our history.

On the 26 September 1983 (34 years ago) Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, was on duty at a Russian nuclear early warning centre when incoming missiles from the US were wrongly detected by the USSR’s computers. Fortunately, Petrov rightly believed it to be a false alarm and did not report them to his superiors.

It was only years later that the incident came to light. During a 2013 interview with the BBC, Petrov explained that he had received computer readouts in the early hours of that morning, that indicated several US missiles had been launched.

"I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it," he said.
"All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders, but I couldn't move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan."
Petrov instead called the duty officer at army headquarters and reported a system malfunction. If there really were incoming missiles, the first blasts would have happened just minutes later.
"Twenty-three minutes later I realised that nothing had happened. If there had been a real strike, then I would already know about it. It was such a relief," he recalled.

Upon investigation, it became clear that Soviet satellites had mistaken sunlight reflecting on clouds for the engines of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Petrov passed away on 19 May but this only became widely known after a chance phone call to him from German film-maker Karl Schumacher. It was he that had first told Petrov's story to the world. Schumacher telephoned Petrov on 7 September, to wish him a happy birthday, only to be informed by his son, Dmitry, that Petrov had died at the age of 77.

So, who is in control? Trump ….. “Rocketman” Kim Jung-Un ….. A soldier sitting in front of a computer screen…… ? ANYONE?


“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  1 John 4 v.4

“He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. For by Him all things were created: thing in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1 v.15-17

I know who I am trusting!