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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; One Step Forward; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1987 [1]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


For nearly half a century, Paul Nitze was one of the chief architects of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Nitze assistant secretary of defense for International Security Affairs. From 1969 to 1973, Paul Nitze served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT). Nitze's interview conducted for War and Peace in the Nuclear Age: "One Step Forward" focuses on SALT I and SALT II. He recounts how he became part of the SALT I delegation, the key issues within the negotiating process, and the initial position statements he drafted for the Soviet delegation. Nitze describes the useful role that "back channel" negotiations can play and discusses the particular problems with national security adviser Henry Kissinger's negotiations in the final days of SALT I. He also addresses Watergate's impact on his participation in SALT II.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
One Step Forward
Program Number



Interview with Paul Nitze, 1987 [1]

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

Soviet and American nuclear forces reach rough nuclear parity in the 1970’s. Each side, pursuing its own interest, negotiates the first successful arms control agreement, SALT I.

In May 1972 President Nixon found himself in Moscow delivering a message of peace and friendship. Nixon announced the first major superpower arms control agreements, SALT I and the Anti-Ballsitic Missile (ABM) treaty. Nixon described his feeling about negotiating with the Soviets. “I didn’t trust the Russians. But I recognized that ... there was no alternative but to have some relationship of ‘live and let live’ between the two superpowers.” Two years after the historic meeting in Moscow, Nixon was forced to resign due to Watergate. ABM silos in the United States were shut down but the production of ballistic missiles armed with multiple nuclear warheads (MIRV’s) contributed to a massive increase in weapons in both the United States and the Soviet Union.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Dobrynin, Anatoly, 1919-2010
United States
Smith, Gerard C.
Watergate Affair, 1972-1974
Antimissile missiles
Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971
Rogers, William P. (William Pierce), 1913-2001
United States. Dept. of Defense
United States. Congress
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Wohlstetter, Albert J.
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM)
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles
Laird, Melvin R.
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
Soviet Union
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Nuclear weapons
Semyonov, Vladimir Semyonovich
Nuclear arms control
Washington, DC
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Nitze, Paul H. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; One Step Forward; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1987 [1],” 02/12/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; One Step Forward; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1987 [1].” 02/12/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; One Step Forward; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1987 [1]. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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