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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Anthony Farrar-Hockley, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Anthony Farrar-Hockley was NATO's Commander in Chief Allied Forces Northern Europe. In the interview he explains NATO strategy involving nuclear weapons and studies from the 1960s and 1970s of how a Warsaw Pact attack might be carried out. One scenario he describes posits a quick enemy breakthrough with superior conventional (including chemical) weapons followed by a discussion within NATO over whether to respond with nuclear arms, beginning with tactical artillery shells but potentially escalating to the strategic level. The interview also relates NATO thinking about likely Soviet retaliation in that event. Farrar-Hockley also describes the changes in military technologies and strategies that occurred over time, especially in response to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). He argues against a "No-First-Use" policy because of Soviet conventional superiority. He also explains the challenges in simulating nuclear warfare for training purposes, as well as the difficulties in communications when the military is dealing with a "possible nuclear scenario."

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Zero Hour
Program Number



Interview with Anthony Farrar-Hockley, 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 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


Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1987 December 8
Nuclear weapons
Warsaw Treaty Organization
Tactical nuclear weapons
Chemical weapons
Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Pershing (Missile)
Warfare, Conventional
Nuclear arms control
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Soviet Union
Military weapons
Flexible response (Nuclear strategy)
Nuclear warfare
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Farrar-Hockley, Anthony, 1924-2006 (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Anthony Farrar-Hockley, 1987,” 11/26/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Anthony Farrar-Hockley, 1987.” 11/26/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Anthony Farrar-Hockley, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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