What virtues, Lord, Thou makest us abhor!
I seriously doubt Mr Petrov had any authority to start a nuclear war. His duty was to report to his superiors what he had detected and it was for his superiors to make the decisions further up the chain of command. Also, nothing prevented him from reporting his doubts to his superiors. Therefore he was guilty of dereliction of his direct duty and being - accidentally - correct does not absolve him of his guilt.And so his punishment was deserved.
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