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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Fyoder Burlatsky, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Fedor Burlatskii (Fyodor Burlatsky) was a speechwriter for Nikita Khrushchev and an adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev. In the interview he discusses a range of issues across Soviet-American relations. He describes the reasoning behind several stages of the Cuban Missile Crisis, including putting missiles in Cuba, shooting down the U-2 plane, and the letters between Khrushchev and Kennedy. He describes the attitudes of Soviet leaders, from Stalin through Gorbachev, toward nuclear weapons and strategy. He explains the effect of installing the SS-20 missiles in Western Europe, and the eventual decision not to bulk up nuclear strength in the European theater for fear of destabilization. He describes Soviet-American relations under the current leadership of Gorbachev and Reagan. He specifically mentions the Reykjavik Summit of 1986 and explains that while everyone else saw it as a failure, he views it as a stage in the process towards disarmament. He also discusses the reasons he believes the Cold War escalated as it did after World War II.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Zero Hour
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Interview with Fyoder Burlatsky, 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.



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Raw video

Media Type


Dobrynin, Anatoly, 1919-2010
Cold War
Summit meetings--Iceland--Reykjavik
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Andropov, Y. V. (Yuri Vladimirovich), 1914-1984
Nuclear arms control
Soviet Union
Pershing (Missile)
Strategic Defense Initiative
Brezhnev, Leonid Il?ich, 1906-1982
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
International relations
Nuclear disarmament
Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953
World War II
United States
Berlin (Germany)
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
Reagan, Ronald
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
Cruise missiles
Chernenko, K. U. (Konstantin Ustinovich), 1911-1985
Antinuclear movement
Gromyko, Andrei Andreevich, 1909-1989
McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
Nuclear weapons
Moscow, Russia
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Burlatskii, Fedor Mikhailovich (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Fyoder Burlatsky, 1987,” 12/22/1987, GBH Archives, accessed July 16, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Fyoder Burlatsky, 1987.” 12/22/1987. GBH Archives. Web. July 16, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Fyoder Burlatsky, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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