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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Agha Shahi, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Agha Shahi was Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations from 1967-1972, then Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1973-1982 (with a short break in between). In the interview he talks about Pakistan, the IAEA and the nonproliferation debates of the 1950s. While he was concerned about India, Israel, and South Africa on the latter score, he recalls a feeling of admiration at China’s nuclear successes. This naturally contrasts sharply with his reactions to India’s 1974 test, which followed the signing of the troubling Indo-Soviet treaty of 1971. He briefly discusses Project 706, the Arab oil embargo and a number of other questions. Turning to the possibility of a Pakistani bomb, he questions the basis for CIA reports about Pakistan’s likely plans for such a device and denies that Prime Minister Bhutto ever sought an Islamic bomb. Discussing nonproliferation, he expresses his negative reactions to President Carter’s anti-proliferation efforts, and also explains that Pakistan declined to put all its nuclear facilities under safeguard because it was considered discriminatory not to make India, Israel or South Africa do the same. He notes that the effect of other countries pulling back on aid as a result made Islamabad decide that it had to become as self-reliant as possible in the area of nuclear technology. He goes on to describe the country’s process for enriching uranium, but denies there are grounds for Western concerns about developments in the country. The discussion then deals with the status of nuclear weapons and whether Pakistan has a deliberate policy of ambiguity about the field. Finally, he is ambivalent about the effectiveness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, saying it can only be proven in the future.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Carter's New World
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Interview with Agha Shahi, 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 Carter comes to office determined to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and to improve relations with the Soviet Union. His frustrations are as grand as his intentions.

Carter had hoped the United States and the Soviet Union would reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons. He stopped production of the B-1 bomber. He believed the SALT II negotiations would be a step toward eliminating nuclear weapons. But his intentions were frustrated by Soviet actions and by a lack of consensus among his own advisors, including Chief SALT II negotiator Paul Warnke and national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (who was dubious about arms control). Carter balanced Soviet aggression in Africa by improving American relations with China. He withdrew SALT II treaty from Senate consideration but its terms continued to serve as general limits on strategic nuclear force levels for both the United States and the Soviet Union.



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Raw video

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Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970
Nuclear disarmament
International Atomic Energy Agency
International relations
Saudi Arabia
United States
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
Nuclear energy
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
Vance, Cyrus R. (Cyrus Roberts), 1917-2002
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963)
United Nations
United States. Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978
Goldschmidt, Bertrand
Nuclear weapons
South Africa
Great Britain
Khan, Munir Ahmad, 1926-1999
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali
Giscard d'Estaing, Valery, 1926-
Nuclear nonproliferation
Nuclear-weapon-free zones
Qaddafi, Muammar
Kosygin, Aleksey Nikolayevich, 1904-1980
Soviet Union
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Shahi, Agha (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Agha Shahi, 1987,” 02/07/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Agha Shahi, 1987.” 02/07/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Agha Shahi, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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