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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Colonel-General N.F. Chervov was a senior member of the Soviet General Staff’s arms control directorate. He begins by assessing the significance of the MX and its fit in the SALT process. It was undoubtedly a first-strike weapon, in his opinion, but he acknowledges that it was a response to the SS-18, which he describes as essentially the same missile. He prefers returning to single-warhead missiles because of their positive effect on stability. He discusses the question of first-use, insisting the USSR will never take the initiative to strike with nuclear weapons, then explaining the military planning implications of this stance. In his judgment, the Cuban missile crisis was the turning point in Soviet thinking about the disutility of nuclear weapons. He gives a lengthy recitation on the “complicated” issues surrounding the Euromissile crisis and discusses Soviet thinking about various negotiations. He attributes Moscow’s about-face on the zero option from 1981 to 1985 to new thinking in the Kremlin and a reassessment of the strategic balance. SDI, in his view, was “a vain undertaking,” and he partially deflects a question about Soviet anti-satellite research by blaming misinformation for distorting Western perceptions. He closes by pointing to a number of “contradictions” in U.S.-Soviet relations.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age

Interview with N. F. Chervov, 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



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


United States
SS-20 Missile
Scowcroft, Brent
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles
Nuclear weapons
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
Pershing (Missile)
Gorbachev, Mikhail
McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
Intercontinental ballistic missiles
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Deterrence (Strategy)
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Nuclear arms control
Nitze, Paul H.
Soviet Union
Strategic Defense Initiative
Mutual assured destruction
First strike (Nuclear strategy)
MX (Weapons system)
Strategic nuclear forces triad
Counterforce (Nuclear strategy)
Reagan, Ronald
Great Britain
Moscow, USSR
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Chervov, N. F. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1987,” 12/28/1987, GBH Archives, accessed June 19, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1987.” 12/28/1987. GBH Archives. Web. June 19, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with N. F. Chervov, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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