The Wellington premier of the film “The Man Who Saved the World” was hosted at the Beehive Theatrette last night.
Among the audience were Ambassadors and members of the Diplomatic Corps, MPs, former leading New Zealand diplomats and a former Governor General. There was a strong and positive response to the film and the messages it carried.
The film is the true story of Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov. It is about how close the world came to being destroyed by a computer error which nearly precipitated a nuclear war.
Petrov was in charge of the Early Warning Command Centre of the Soviet Union on 26 September 1983. That night the satellite and computer alarm system went off repeatedly, warning of incoming missiles from the US. It was only known to be a false alarm when the missiles failed to materialise over Russia.
“Had Petrov accepted the validity of the warning and followed protocol, he would have advised superiors to launch a counter attack. His decision not to saved the world from a cataclysmic nuclear conflict which would have killed hundreds of millions at the very least and put human survival at risk,” Chair of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Chair, Phil Goff said.
“The world remains at risk of what might have happened that night. There are on hair trigger alert over 1600 nuclear missiles, each with a thousand times the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
“The purpose of missiles being on high alert is to allow them to be fired immediately when incoming missiles are detected and before they hit their target. With only 15 to 30 minutes between the launch and missiles striking targets, there is no time for assessing the accuracy of information received, rational and considered decision making or dialogue with the opposing side.
“There have over time been hundreds of examples of computer malfunctions, accidents and violation of safety rules which have put the world at risk. Military commanders have warned of the danger of cyber-attacks into missile launch systems which would enable terrorist groups to take control of warheads.
“This film is a wakeup call to act to prevent what poses the greatest risk of human annihilation. It’s time for the nuclear weapon states to heed the call of the 166 nations which have voted for New Zealand resolutions at the UN to take nuclear weapons off high alert,” said Phil Goff.
The trailer for The Man Who Saved the World can be viewed here.