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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


N. F. Chervov was a Soviet General and arms negotiator. He begins by recalling the Hiroshima and Nagasaki explosions, which he says were mainly designed to intimidate the USSR. With some distaste he recounts U.S. war plans that called for targeting Soviet cities and points to the termination of the American nuclear monopoly as a fortunate event “for all of humanity.” He completely discounts the notion that the U.S. saw its monopoly as countering the Soviets’ conventional superiority. He remembers his pride in the Soviets’ development of a nuclear weapon and discusses their strategic priorities at the time. He talks about the change in strategies after the death of Stalin, then explains his views of the missile gap at the end of the decade. After some general comments about negotiating with different American administrations, he offers a portrait of Robert McNamara, calling him the “best” defense secretary of the period, then recounting aspects of his tenure at the Pentagon. He ends with a denial that Moscow ever contemplated the preemptive use of nuclear weapons.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age

Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1986

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



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Media Type


McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
World War II
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Mutual assured destruction
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear arms control
Nuclear weapons
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Weinberger, Caspar W.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Soviet Union
Nagasaki-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
United States
Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953
Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006
Warsaw Treaty Organization
Reagan, Ronald
Intercontinental ballistic missiles
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
Nuclear disarmament
Schlesinger, James R.
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Moscow, USSR
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Chervov, N. F. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1986,” 04/09/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1986.” 04/09/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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