In 1983, Petrov held a very important station: As lieutenant colonel, he was in charge of monitoring the Soviet Union's satellites over the United States, and watching for any sign of unauthorized military action.
This was the Cold War era, and suspicions were high - on September 1st, the Soviet Union had mistakenly shot down a Korean aircraft it had believed to be a military plane, killing 269 civilians, including an American Congressman. The Soviet Union believed that the United States might launch a missile attack at any moment, and that they would be forced to respond with their own arsenal of nuclear weapons.
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