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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with M. G. K. Menon, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


From 1988 to 1993 nuclear physicist Mambillkalathil Govind Kumar Menon was president of the International Council of Scientific Unions, a non-governmental organization long involved in environmental and development issues. He was also India’s minister of state for science and technology from 1986 to 1989, and he served in the Parliament from 1990 to 1996. In this video segment, In the interview conducted for War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, Menon describes the euphoria following World War II when international cooperation on atomic science and technology flourished. He offers reflections on the dynamic and visionary nuclear physicist Dr. Homi Bhabha. Dr. Bhabha saw the possibility for the modern development of India in creating programs that would harness the newly emerging technology of nuclear energy. Menon captures the zeal of scientists at the first United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. He also defines some basic nuclear processes and principles: how fission works, controlled and uncontrolled chain reactions, and the difference between generating nuclear energy and manufacturing weapons. In 1974, under the prime ministership of Indira Gandhi, India conducted an underground nuclear test. Menon defends what India called a peaceful nuclear explosion as a means to explore enhanced mining techniques and other feats of large-scale underground nuclear engineering. With equal enthusiasm, Menon describes the possibilities of India’s space program for expanding telecommunications and gathering data for water- and land-resource management. The global threat, he maintains, is not India but a nuclear exchange between the two superpowers. Paraphrasing Indira Gandhi, Menon concludes, “What we want is not to make deserts but to make deserts bloom.”

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Carter's New World
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Interview with M. G. K. Menon, 1987

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

President Carter comes to office determined to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and to improve relations with the Soviet Union. His frustrations are as grand as his intentions.

Carter had hoped the United States and the Soviet Union would reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons. He stopped production of the B-1 bomber. He believed the SALT II negotiations would be a step toward eliminating nuclear weapons. But his intentions were frustrated by Soviet actions and by a lack of consensus among his own advisors, including Chief SALT II negotiator Paul Warnke and national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (who was dubious about arms control). Carter balanced Soviet aggression in Africa by improving American relations with China. He withdrew SALT II treaty from Senate consideration but its terms continued to serve as general limits on strategic nuclear force levels for both the United States and the Soviet Union.



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Raw video

Media Type


Nuclear energy
Bhaba, Homi J.
Nagasaki-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Nuclear fission
Nuclear weapons -- Testing
Gandhi, Indira, 1917-1984
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 1889-1964
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Sarabhai, Vikram A., 1919-1971
World War II
Nuclear arms control
Nuclear weapons
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Menon, M. G. K. (Mambillikalathil Govind Kumar), 1928- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with M. G. K. Menon, 1987,” 02/18/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with M. G. K. Menon, 1987.” 02/18/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with M. G. K. Menon, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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