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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Arkady Shevchenko, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Arkady Shevchenko was a Soviet diplomat and advisor to Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko. In 1978 he defected to the United States. In the interview he describes Nikita Khrushchev and his views on the United States and nuclear weapons. He explains Khrushchev’s reaction to the election of President Kennedy, and the subsequent evolution of his feelings towards the man throughout Kennedy’s presidency, including in reaction to the Bay of Pigs and the Vienna Summit. He explains the Soviet decision to put missiles in Cuba, as well as the effect the Cuban Missile Crisis had on Khrushchev and the Soviet Union. He discusses arms control both in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis and in the future. He also comments on Khrushchev’s status in the Soviet Union leadership and his relationship with the Politburo.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Europe Goes Nuclear
Program Number



Interview with Arkady Shevchenko, 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

France and England rush to acquire their own nuclear weapons, NATO worries about the threat from the East, and Europe becomes the most nuclear-saturated place on Earth.

British and American scientists worked side by side to build the first nuclear bombs. “There was a strong desire on the British side for that collaboration to continue into peacetime. There was no such desire on the part of the United States,” recalls British diplomat Roger Makins, Lord Sherfield. Britain decided to proceed on its own and in 1952 joined the US and the Soviets in what pundits would call “the nuclear club.” General Charles De Gaulle, president of France, wanted to join the club, too, and not rely on the US for nuclear protection. Prestige was also an issue. In 1960, France exploded its first atomic weapon. Since World War II the Soviet Union had had a superiority in conventional forces in Europe. NATO countered by deploying thousands of nuclear weapons. “They were accepted as being perfectly reasonable weapons to use in a tactical battle in continental Europe,” said Sir Richard Powell of the British Defense Ministry.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Minuteman (Missile)
Nuclear arms control
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles
Berlin (Germany) -- History-- Crisis, 1961
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM)
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963)
United States. Central Intelligence Agency
International relations
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Nuclear weapons
Cruise missiles
United States
Nuclear warfare
McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
Intercontinental ballistic missiles
Antimissile missiles
Berlin (Germany)
Soviet Union
Cuba -- History -- Invasion, 1961
Horn of Africa
Washington, DC
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Shevchenko, Arkady N. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Arkady Shevchenko, 1986,” 03/10/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Arkady Shevchenko, 1986.” 03/10/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Arkady Shevchenko, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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