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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Fred Ikle, 1987 [1]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Fred Ikle was Undersecretary for Defense for Policy during the Reagan Administration, and Director for the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1973-1977. In the interview he discusses arms control issues between the United States and the Soviet Union. He begins with Soviet deployment of the SS-20 missile, and the problems this created since the U.S. had removed its intermediate range missiles from Europe. He describes the Reagan Administration’s approach to arms control, including the zero-zero proposal and the “walk in the woods” proposal. He then gives a brief account of Soviet aggressiveness and deceptiveness over the years, a history that leads him to urge caution in the arena of nuclear negotiations. Dr. Ikle also points to the far greater size of Soviet conventional forces as a matter of concern. He concludes by remarking that any arms control agreements will have a much greater political than military importance.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Zero Hour
Program Number



Interview with Fred Ikle, 1987 [1]

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


SS-20 Missile
Great Britain
Cruise missiles
Intercontinental ballistic missiles
Nuclear arms control
Nuclear weapons -- Testing
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
International relations
Pershing (Missile)
Warsaw Treaty (1955)
United States
Soviet Union
Intermediate-range ballistic missiles
Reagan, Ronald
Washington, DC
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Ikle, Fred Charles (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Fred Ikle, 1987 [1],” 10/27/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Fred Ikle, 1987 [1].” 10/27/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Fred Ikle, 1987 [1]. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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