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

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Homi Sethna was a leading Indian nuclear scientist who served as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India (1972-1983) during which time he was centrally involved with the test of 1974. In the interview, he recalls developments reaching back to the Geneva Conference of Experts in 1958 and the early days of India’s nuclear program. Included are sketches of key figures such as Homi Bhaba, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, and specifically their views on nuclear energy, as well as information about India’s cooperation with Canada and others in developing its program. In the latter regard, Dr. Sethna insists that while India benefited from such things as adopting analytical methods used by foreign experts, the actual process and planning was “entirely an Indian effort.” He discusses the concept of a peaceful nuclear explosion and how to distinguish it from a bomb, as well as what India’s 1974 test required and what it achieved. Dr. Sethna criticizes the NPT as an unequal treaty, and scores the Carter administration for some of its non-proliferation efforts, for example in connection with the Tarapur reactor and the International Nuclear Fuel Evaluation Group. He explains his concerns about Pakistan but says it is difficult to be sure whether Pakistan has the bomb. In his view, proliferation can be controlled, but the future of the nuclear age will depend largely on the leadership of the United States.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Carter's New World
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Interview with Homi Sethna, 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

Media Type


United Nations
United States
Nuclear weapons -- Testing
Nuclear energy
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
London Economic Summit (1984)
Radioactive wastes
Nuclear fission
Nuclear arms control
Power resources
Gandhi, Indira, 1917-1984
Nuclear weapons
Atoms for Peace (U.S.)
South Africa
Bhaba, Homi J.
United States. Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978
Soviet Union
Chernobyl Nuclear Accident, Chornobyl, Ukraine, 1986
Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Gray, James Lorne, 1913-1987
Nuclear disarmament
Shastri, Lal Bahadur, 1904-1966
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Sethna, Homi N. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Homi Sethna, 1987,” 02/16/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Homi Sethna, 1987.” 02/16/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Homi Sethna, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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