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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; One Step Forward; Interview with Roland Timerbaev, 1986 [1]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Roland Timerbaev, a world expert in the area of nuclear non-proliferation, served on the Soviet delegation of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) and was deputy director of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1964 to 1985. In the interview Timerbaev conducted for War and Peace in the Nuclear Age: “One Step Forward,” he explains that the Soviet goals for SALT I were to achieve a quick, realistic agreement, then to continue, step by step, through a series of increasingly “radical” solutions. He concludes that in the time since SALT I, the Soviets have revised their thinking to accelerate the process toward disarmament. He identifies factors, such as the Vietnam War and the increasing Soviet offensive capability, that led to the initiation of SALT I. He recounts some of the challenges that arose at the talks, such as the difficulty of arriving at shared definitions, ongoing Soviet concerns about the unilateral U.S. advantages of European forward-based missiles, and resentment toward U.S. Congressional efforts to use arms control and trade to leverage changes in Soviet domestic policy. The Soviet position, Timerbaev continues, rejects the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction and holds nuclear disarmament as its overarching goal. Although limited in its ability to bring about actual arms reduction, SALT I earned Timerbaev’s praise as “the most important agreement ever achieved in the field of arms limitation” because of its historic significance as the first such agreement between the superpowers.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
One Step Forward
Program Number



Interview with Roland Timerbaev, 1986 [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

Soviet and American nuclear forces reach rough nuclear parity in the 1970’s. Each side, pursuing its own interest, negotiates the first successful arms control agreement, SALT I.

In May 1972 President Nixon found himself in Moscow delivering a message of peace and friendship. Nixon announced the first major superpower arms control agreements, SALT I and the Anti-Ballsitic Missile (ABM) treaty. Nixon described his feeling about negotiating with the Soviets. “I didn’t trust the Russians. But I recognized that ... there was no alternative but to have some relationship of ‘live and let live’ between the two superpowers.” Two years after the historic meeting in Moscow, Nixon was forced to resign due to Watergate. ABM silos in the United States were shut down but the production of ballistic missiles armed with multiple nuclear warheads (MIRV’s) contributed to a massive increase in weapons in both the United States and the Soviet Union.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


United States. Congress
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM)
Intercontinental ballistic missiles
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Antimissile missiles
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Middle East
Nuclear weapons -- Testing
Jackson, Henry M. (Henry Martin), 1912-1983
Nuclear arms control
Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
Nuclear disarmament
Soviet Union
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles
Nuclear weapons
United States
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
Mutual assured destruction
New York, NY
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Timerbaev, R. M. (Roland Makhmutovich) (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; One Step Forward; Interview with Roland Timerbaev, 1986 [1],” 11/26/1986, GBH Archives, accessed July 23, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; One Step Forward; Interview with Roland Timerbaev, 1986 [1].” 11/26/1986. GBH Archives. Web. July 23, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; One Step Forward; Interview with Roland Timerbaev, 1986 [1]. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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