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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with George Bunn, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


George Bunn was General Counsel to the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1961-1969, and played a key role as a negotiator of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). For the most part, the interview deals with the NPT process – the lead-up to negotiations, the talks themselves, the political dynamics among different parties, problems that confronted the treaty, and the implications of its approval. One of the United States' early concerns in this period, he notes, was China's possession of nuclear weapons. The NPT process gained momentum when the comprehensive test ban treaty bid failed, initially a great personal disappointment for Mr. Bunn. Among the obstacles the treaty faced along the way were the Multilateral Force, which the Soviets objected to because it would give Germany access to nuclear arms, and the question of safeguards, which several non-nuclear states protested against. In the latter instance, European members of EURATOM opposed the involvement of both Soviet inspectors and the IAEA. In the end, solutions were reached and the NPT, in Mr. Bunn's view, became one of the most successful arms control treaties since World War II. Among other related topics discussed are the impact of the Chinese and Indian tests, India's sharp criticisms of the NPT, and Mr. Bunn's personal interactions with Soviet negotiators.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Haves and Have-Nots
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Interview with George Bunn, 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

Program Description

A case study of the dynamics of nuclear proliferation: China triggers India and India triggers Pakistan in the competition to have their own nuclear weapons.

In 1953 President Eisenhower announced the Atoms for Peace program. This marked a total reversal of American foreign policy. Americans would give material to allow countries to build reactors. “So overnight we passed from nuclear middle age to nuclear renaissance,” recalls French atomic scientist Bertrand Goldschmidt. The Soviet Union started its own program and helped China learn to build a bomb. The first Chinese nuclear blast was in 1964. Indian defense expert K. Subrahmanyam recalls that a nuclear China prompted India to set off a “peaceful” nuclear explosion in 1974. “There is no such thing as a peaceful nuclear explosion,” responds General A. I. Akram of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. “’74 was a watershed. It brought the shadow of the bomb to South Asia, and that shadow is still there.”



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Nuclear nonproliferation
Nuclear weapons -- Testing
Multilateral force (Nuclear strategy)
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963)
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970
Nuclear weapons
International relations
International Atomic Energy Agency
United Nations
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Gromyko, Andrei Andreevich, 1909-1989
Korean War, 1950-1953
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
United States. Dept. of State
United States. Dept. of Defense
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
Great Britain
Polaris (Missile)
World War II
Atoms for Peace (U.S.)
Nuclear arms control
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
United States
Rusk, Dean, 1909-1994
Soviet Union
South Africa
Thompson, Llewellyn, 1904-1972
Wilson, Harold, 1916-1995
Nuclear energy
Timerbaev, R. M. (Roland Makhmutovich)
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Bunn, George, 1925- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with George Bunn, 1986,” 10/30/1986, GBH Archives, accessed July 15, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with George Bunn, 1986.” 10/30/1986. GBH Archives. Web. July 15, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with George Bunn, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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