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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Raja Ramanna, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Dr. Raja Ramanna was a nuclear physicist. He served as Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (1972–1978 and 1981–1983), from where he oversaw India's first nuclear test. He also headed the country's Atomic Energy Commission (1984–1987) and served as the Secretary for Defense Research (1978–1981). In the interview, he goes into the history and purposes of India's nuclear program. He recalls the Atoms for Peace program as an "epoch-making event" and recounts the importance of key people – Nehru, Bhabha – and of foreign assistance to the country's nuclear activities, including the Trombay reprocessing facility. On the issue of nonproliferation, he describes India's attitudes, especially toward the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Indians view as mainly a threat to the national sovereignty of states. The interview also touches on the London Suppliers Group, the International Fuel Cycle Evaluation, India's emphasis on plutonium and fast breeders, and Jimmy Carter's nonproliferation policy. Finally, he goes into the differences between the technologies for making a bomb and for generating electric power.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Haves and Have-Nots
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Interview with Raja Ramanna, 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

A case study of the dynamics of nuclear proliferation: China triggers India and India triggers Pakistan in the competition to have their own nuclear weapons.

In 1953 President Eisenhower announced the Atoms for Peace program. This marked a total reversal of American foreign policy. Americans would give material to allow countries to build reactors. “So overnight we passed from nuclear middle age to nuclear renaissance,” recalls French atomic scientist Bertrand Goldschmidt. The Soviet Union started its own program and helped China learn to build a bomb. The first Chinese nuclear blast was in 1964. Indian defense expert K. Subrahmanyam recalls that a nuclear China prompted India to set off a “peaceful” nuclear explosion in 1974. “There is no such thing as a peaceful nuclear explosion,” responds General A. I. Akram of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. “’74 was a watershed. It brought the shadow of the bomb to South Asia, and that shadow is still there.”



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Soviet Union
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
Great Britain
International Atomic Energy Agency
United States. Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978
World War II
Nuclear energy
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 1889-1964
Radioactive wastes
Nuclear fission
Nuclear nonproliferation
United States
Bhaba, Homi J.
Nuclear disarmament
Nuclear weapons
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Ramanna, Raja, 1925-2004 (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Raja Ramanna, 1987,” 02/14/1987, GBH Archives, accessed June 25, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Raja Ramanna, 1987.” 02/14/1987. GBH Archives. Web. June 25, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Raja Ramanna, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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