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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Richard Perle, 1988

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Richard Perle was an aide to U.S. senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson from 1969 to 1980 and assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to 1987. In the interview he discusses the arms control negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union under Reagan. He talks about the dual track decision, the zero option, the double zero option, and the INF deal. He also explains the position of European countries in terms of these negotiations, and how successful negotiations would affect NATO and the strategic balance.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Zero Hour
Program Number



Interview with Richard Perle, 1988

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 Reagan and Soviet Secretary Gorbachev sign the INF Agreement to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons from Europe. No one had expected the European Missile Crisis to end this way.

The story begins in 1979, when the Western Allies were worried about the Soviet Union’s buildup of SS-20 nuclear missiles aimed at Western Europe. Under pressure from the Carter Administration, NATO issued a threat, if the SS-20s were not removed, NATO would install new American missiles in Europe. The threat revived the dormant anti-nuclear movement in Western Europe, giving them an anti-American tone. In 1981, President Reagan made a proposal that the US would cancel deployment of the missiles if the Soviet Union would dismantle all the intermediate range missiles it had pointed at Europe. This was the “zero-zero” option. The Soviet Union was entering a period of change with three leaders dying in three years. In 1986 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev offered to accept the “zero-zero” option and in 1987 the INF agreement was signed.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Weinberger, Caspar W.
Schmidt, Helmut, 1918 Dec. 23-
Strategic Defense Initiative
Nitze, Paul H.
United States
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Soviet Union
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1987 December 8
Haig, Alexander Meigs, 1924-2010
SS-20 Missile
Owen, David, 1938-
Gromyko, Andrei Andreevich, 1909-1989
Nuclear weapons
Reagan, Ronald
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Peace movements
Shultz, George Pratt, 1920-
Summit meetings--Iceland—Reykjavik
Nuclear arms control
Apel, Hans, 1932-2011
Washington, DC
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Perle, Richard Norman, 1941- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Richard Perle, 1988,” 02/25/1988, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Richard Perle, 1988.” 02/25/1988. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Richard Perle, 1988. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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