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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Andrei Gromyko, 1988

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Andrei Gromyko was Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1957-1985 and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1985-1988. In the interview, he recalls the moment President Truman informed Joseph Stalin of the existence of the atomic bomb at the Potsdam conference, insisting that Stalin appreciated perfectly the significance of the weapon, contrary to general opinion, but that he chose to behave as if it were not of major import. The Soviets, he insists, opposed the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki because they saw no military need in it, viewing it rather as a "criminal act." He explains Soviet objections to the Baruch Plan, and discusses the Soviet alternative plan, adding his belief that a major opportunity was missed by not coming to any agreement at that time. In his view, the West is to blame for the parting of ways between Moscow and its wartime allies due to a variety of actions, notably their insistence on pressing ahead with the arms race and building American forward bases overseas. Other topics discussed include the Berlin question and NSC-68. Taking up the Korean War, he concludes that its importance was that it taught the need to come to terms by negotiation rather than armed conflict. He denies that Khrushchev ever exaggerated Soviet military capabilities. He then goes on to discuss the Cuban missile crisis in detail, including his meeting with President Kennedy on October 18, 1962, in which he insists the president never asked directly about Soviet missiles in Cuba. The chief lesson he draws from that crisis is that no nation should impose a regime on another that is not acceptable to the population of the latter. Turning to the Nixon and Ford administrations, he goes describes the Soviet views on linkage, the SALT treaty and the Vladivostok negotiations. He denies the Soviets ever reached full parity with the United States, which leads to a lengthy statement about the arms race. He further remarks that the Soviets were not responsible for the decline of d├ętente. In discussing intermediate-range missiles in Europe he takes issue with the contention that disarmament generally favors the USSR. This in turn leads to a lengthy commentary on the need to abolish nuclear weapons.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Carter's New World
Program Number



Interview with Andrei Gromyko, 1988

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

Media Type


Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
Nagasaki-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Nuclear arms control
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Adenauer, Konrad, 1876-1967
Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965
Kurchatov, I. V. (Igor Vasil'evich), 1903-1960
Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967
Brezhnev, Leonid Il'ich, 1906-1982
United States
Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Great Britain
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
Soviet Union
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM)
United Nations
Nuclear weapons
Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
World War II
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
National Security Council (U.S.)
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Nuclear disarmament
Korean War, 1950-1953
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
International relations
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Gromyko, Andrei Andreevich, 1909-1989 (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Andrei Gromyko, 1988,” 12/13/1988, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Andrei Gromyko, 1988.” 12/13/1988. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Andrei Gromyko, 1988. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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