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Home Articles Flashpoints Sept 26 5pm CPACS - Day the World Nearly Ended/International Nuclear Disarmament Day

Sept 26 5pm CPACS - Day the World Nearly Ended/International Nuclear Disarmament Day

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Keynote address by Jane Singleton of Sydney Peace Foundation on the future of peace activism

The 26th September (this coming Friday) is 'The Day the World nearly Ended' as well as International Nuclear Disarmament Day, recognized by a resolution of the UN General Assembly.

At half- past midnight Moscow time on 26 Sept 1983, Colonel Stanislaw Petrov was the officer on watch, supervising over 200 others, at the Serpukhov-15 satellite early warning center outside Moscow.

Suddenly, sirens blared and lights flashed, and the computers indicated that the US had launched 5 nuclear missiles at the then USSR.

The expectation was that Colonel Petrov would immediately take steps that would lead to the initiation of a computerized sequence that would launch somewhere between 5000 and 15000 warheads in retaliation at the US and its allies including Australia making the rubble bounce and initiating a 'nuclear winter' that would extinguish civilization and most complex land-based living species.

He didn't. Instead he risked his future in the missile forces by reporting a false alarm.

He said later 'I had a feeling in my gut that there was a mistake somewhere'.

He is the reason we are all still here. His career and the utterly apocalyptic decision he made are the subject of a film to be released in October entitled 'The Man Who Saved the World'.

The importance of Sept 26 has been recognized by a United Nations General Assembly resolution passed in 2013, designating it as International Nuclear Disarmament Day.

In the context of current tensions over Ukraine, and persistent nuclear posturing by Russia and NATO, the risks to civilization and to the Human and others species posed by nuclear weapons could not be clearer, nor the imperative to get rid of them more urgent.

At 5pm on 26 Sept at the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies following the address by Jane Singleton, we will be showing extracts of the new movie, together with a movie about what are the expectations of US missile crews in the event of a similar 'apocalypse'.

A series of events will take place worldwide commemorating International Nuclear Disarmament Day and the momentous decisions taken on Sept26 1983 by Colonel Petrov.

These are documented on the following URL:

These include events in Australia (Sydney and Melbourne), Bangladesh, Belgium (European Parliament) Czech Republic, Fiji, Japan, India, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, and United States. Events will also take place in the United Nations General Assembly.

Joint Statement of Members of the European Parliament
supporting the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

We, members of the European Parliament, express concern at the dangers posed by the 16,300 nuclear weapons maintained by the nuclear weapons possessors, and by the threat of further proliferation of nuclear weapons.

We highlight the risk that these weapons could be used by accident, miscalculation or intent –especially in times of heightened conflict.

We note that any use of nuclear weapons by a State or non-State actor would cause catastrophic consequences to human health, society and the environment, and would violate international humanitarian law

We therefore welcome the decision of the United Nations to establish September 26 as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

We support the aim of the day to enhance public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination.

We urge the EU Council to discuss and adopt a sound Common Position well ahead of the 2015 nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review conference which aims to initiate complete nuclear disarmament.

And we encourage parliaments and parliamentarians around the world to join with civil society, the United Nations and governments to observe this day annually and to act for the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

People for Nuclear Disarmament (PND) and  
The Human Survival Project (HSP) at CPACS
 Invite you to a lecture/discussion:
Keynote Speaker: Jane Singleton, Director, Sydney Peace Foundation
                    ‘Peace Activism: the Way Forward’
Time: 5.00 to 6.30 pm
Date: Friday 26 September  2014
Place : Room 114/CPACS Poster Gallery, Mackie Building, Arundel St, Forest Lodge: http://lostoncampus.com.au/281/map

There will be refreshments after the forum in the Poster Gallery.
Learn how the world nearly ended and more about what is expected of US missile crews when it is to do so. At 12.30pm Moscow Time, on 26 Sept 1983, Colonel Stanislaw Petrov was the officer on watch at the Serpukhov-15 nuclear command and control center, not far from Moscow. Serpukhov-15's main function was to receive data from the then Soviet Union's surveillance satellites, similar to (and at that time more advanced than) those of the US, whose job was to look for a missile launch in North Dakota.
The political situation was dire, with senior Kremlin generals predicting WW-III anytime now 'or sooner because we might pre-empt'. KAL-007 had just been shot down. Reagan had quipped on radio about bombing the Soviet Union. The apocalypse was most emphatically on the global agenda.
Suddenly, sirens wailed and klaxons blared.

The moment that everyone had been trained to fear for decades seemed to have come. According to the main command computer, a number of missiles had been launched by the US, and the aforesaid apocalypse was approaching at thrice the speed of sound and would arrive in roughly twenty minutes.
Colonel Stan Petrov's job description was that he was supposed to report a missile attack to his superiors via a red telephone, and buttons would then be pressed which would launch thousands of retaliatory warheads at the US and its allies (including Australia, with Pine Gap a super-high- priority target).
He didn't do it.
He said later that 'I had a feeling in my gut that there was a mistake somewhere'.
His actions that night prevented World War III.

Statement Films has now made a movie about Colonel Stan, not only about that momentous night, but also about how the consequences of that night played out in the rest of his life.

The Non – Aligned Movement (comprising between 2/3 and 3Ž4 of all the world’s governments) after being sent a memo on the significance of Sept26 by the Human Survival Project in the lead up to a High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament on Sept26 2013, voted in the General Assembly to make said day into International Nuclear Disarmament Day.

Colonel Stan says 'I am not a hero. I was just in the right place at the right time'. (Interestingly, he wasn't supposed to have been on duty that night, having swapped his shift with someone else who, being junior to him, would have 'gone by the book' and we would not be here to speculate on it.)

As we said, learn some more about what happened on the night of 26 Sept 1983 at CPACS on 26 Sept 2014, with keynote address by Jane Singleton, ‘Peace Activism: the Way Forward’, film promo clips for the (yet – to be released) movie on Colonel Stan Petrov, 'The Man who Saved the World', and a discussion about what is expected of US Missileers when it is deemed necessary to end the world (following a new clip from from the documentary film 'Missile'),  with John Hallam and Prof. Peter King of the Human Survival Project.

Contact/RSVP [for numbers]: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (0422 647 025)

Also: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Human Survival Project Web page:  (Don’t miss “Shakespeare and Nuclear Weapons”)

http://sydney.edu.au/arts/peace_conflict/practice/human_survival_project.shtml  ]
Last Updated on Sunday, 08 February 2015 22:21