15 Times World War 3 Nearly Started


From wars in the Middle East to faulty computer chips simulating a real nuclear attack, we count 15 times the world almost came to an end in our age of nuclear weapons.

15 – 1979 NORAD computer glitch


  • This occurred on the morning of November 9th, 1979 at Colorado’s North American Aerospace Defence Command
  • Technicians received reports that the Soviets had launched a series of missiles at North America, with the response being to launch 10 interceptor fighter planes, get the president on an escape plane and prepare to launch a retaliatory strike
  • Then we find out a technician had accidentally started a training program to simulate a Soviet attack, a computer glitch that almost destroyed everyone on Earth

14 – Attack on Yeonpyeong


  • This took place not too long ago, November 2010, an attack by North Korea against South Korean troops stationed at the island of Yeonpyeong
  • They launched a total of 160 missiles against them, decimating a huge number of people – and even worse, inciting the possibility this border conflict might escalate in World War 3
  • Though we’ve so far avoided it, this event is still a tragic, meaningless waste of human life

13 – B-52 Crash near Thule

Boeing B-52G

  • January 21st, 1968, a fire breaks out on a B-52 bomber – the pilot has not time to contact base before he bales out
  • The plane crashes in some ice 7 miles offshore of Thule, then its fuel and certain compounds of nuclear weapons explode, but does NOT trigger a nuclear detonation
  • If it had, alerts would have shown an attack on both the nearby base and the bomber itself – indicating to the White House an enemy attack and need for immediate retaliation, but luckily none of this came to pass

12 – 1995 Research Rocket


  • Norway, January of 1995, local scientists launch a research rocket to study the aurora borealis
  • Meanwhile, in Russia, eyes boggle as what looks like a gigantic nuclear warhead torpedoes towards them – so President Boris Yeltsin whips out his briefcase full of nuclear codes purely to launch nukes at every target they can reach
  • Thankfully, the missile fell into the ocean, Yeltsin put away his briefcase and instead picked up a delicious sandwich

11 – Soviet Early Warning False Alarm


  • September 26th, 1983, a secret bunker owned by the Soviets – commander Stanislav Petrov has just settled into a chair when a loud siren went off and screens showed that Americans had launched 5 missiles
  • They only had minutes to respond, there was chaos and stress in the bunker, because of the enormous incoming payload, the chain of command went straight to Petrov and he had to decide if he wanted to respond with missiles, or call in a false alarm
  • He decided to do the latter, but not because they realised they were fakes, no, because he knew his equipment was new and he wasn’t prepared to begin World War 3 based on computer data alone – but he said he really did believe missiles were on their way, which made it damn near impossible to call them fakes, but he did and we’re all thankful for his call in judgement


  • Creepy (34%)
  • Epic (25%)
  • No (15%)
  • Wat (14%)
  • Lewd (12%)