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

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Myron Kratzer worked for much of his career (1951-1971) at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. From there he joined the State Department, focusing on nuclear matters. He talks at some length about the Atoms for Peace program of the 1950s, its objectives and methods, the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency and other related topics. He recalls that for those involved with Atoms for Peace, India, as the world’s largest democracy, inspired a special interest in helping the country succeed economically and in other ways. For their part, China and Israel generated concerns about proliferation. After describing the effects of disseminating information to non-nuclear states, and what is required to build a bomb, he discusses the Tarapur reactor project, and explains the inadequate heavy water and Canadian agreements that allowed India to produce plutonium and from there build a bomb. He recalls the period between the Geneva conference of 1964 and the Geneva conference of 1971 as one of optimism on nuclear issues. The subsequent 1973 oil crisis, contrary to popular belief, did not give a boost to the nuclear energy sector because the resulting reduction in demand for power meant less impetus for nuclear energy as well. He states that the 1975 French and German sales to Latin American and Asian markets were unpopular with American firms because they were perceived as unfair. Finally, he calls Jimmy Carter’s non-proliferation policy a significant setback because it caused countries to become reluctant to rely on the United States as a nuclear supplier.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Haves and Have-Nots
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Interview with Myron Kratzer, 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.”



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Raw video

Media Type


Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Nuclear nonproliferation
Nuclear energy
Soviet Union
Nuclear weapons
United States. Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978
United States
Galbraith, John Kenneth, 1908-2006
International Atomic Energy Agency
Bhaba, Homi J.
Great Britain
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
Washington, DC
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Kratzer, Myron B. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Myron Kratzer, 1987,” 06/02/1987, GBH Archives, accessed July 23, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Myron Kratzer, 1987.” 06/02/1987. GBH Archives. Web. July 23, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Myron Kratzer, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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