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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Visions of War and Peace; Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Gennady Gerasimov was the Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman under Mikhail Gorbachev. In the interview he briefly describes the changes in Soviet policy that took place between Brezhnev and Gorbachev. He recalls the psychological effects of Reagan’s early disparaging remarks about the Soviet Union. In his opinion, the Soviet deployment of SS-20 missiles was not adequately thought through, and he traces Soviet thinking (and rethinking) of the zero option. He recalls particular aspects of the Reykjavik summit and his understanding of the difficulties U.S. officials have had with the ABM treaty. He calls SDI “a silly idea” and “dangerous.” The Washington summit, in his view, was an extremely positive experience characterized by cooperation and candid discussion. Asked about the nature of the U.S.-Soviet conflict, he says it is basically ideological, then provides reflections on the different attitudes that obtain on each side.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Visions of War and Peace
Program Number

110, 112, 113


Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 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

Even in the best international atmosphere, the superpowers face continuing differences about hot to reduce the risk of nuclear war. This final episode analyzes the continuing themes of the nuclear age.

- American attitudes toward nuclear weapons are intertwined with American anxieties about the nature of the Soviet State. - NATO relies on a threat of first use of nuclear weapons in response to an attack even by conventional forces of the Warsaw Pact. - To date, there is no defense against nuclear missiles. - More and more nations are acquiring nuclear technology. - Many people confuse arms control with disarmament.

The challenge of the Nuclear Age is to find a new way for nations to resolve disputes so they will no longer resort to force.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM)
Strategic Defense Initiative
Brezhnev, Leonid Il'ich, 1906-1982
Soviet Union
Nuclear disarmament
United States
Great Britain
Nuclear arms control
Summit meetings--Iceland--Reykjavik
Nuclear weapons
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
Thatcher, Margaret
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Reagan, Ronald
Moscow, USSR
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Gerasimov, Gennady (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Visions of War and Peace; Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987,” 12/17/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 6, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Visions of War and Peace; Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987.” 12/17/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 6, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Visions of War and Peace; Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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