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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Heli Batenin, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Gen. Heli [Geli] Batenin served on the Soviet General Staff and Strategic Rocket Forces. In the interview he provides expansive responses to questions about Soviet thinking on nuclear weapons and warfare, views of the West and ways to deal with adversaries, as well as how all of these notions evolved over the years. He discusses Soviet deterrence policies and explains Moscow's thinking on first-strike doctrine. He asserts that the SS-18 and SS-19 missiles were not first-strike by design, but with the development of more sophisticated guidance systems the former became capable of a first strike, leading to an understandably anxious reaction in the West. He speaks at length on the nature of the U.S.-Soviet conflict, which attributes mainly to the existence of different socio-economic systems.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Missile Experimental
Program Number

110, 111


Interview with Heli Batenin, 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

Does the United States really plan to use nuclear weapons? Or is their only purpose to deter others from using them? These questions fuel debate over the Mobile Missile known as the MX.

The MX was designed in 1975 to counter the threat of large accurate missiles being bult in the Soviet Union. General Russell Dougherty of the Strategic Air Command recalls, “We had to have some more warheads ... with more accuracy. That was the rational for ... the MX.” It faced ten years of difficult questions in Congress, withing the military and from civilians. Was the missile meant to deter a Soviet attack or to survive one? One question led to another. There was one practical question: where to put the 200,000 pound 100 foot long missiles? In 1983 Congress approved production of 100 MX Peacekeeper missiles and based the first 50 in existing Minuteman silos.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Nuclear weapons
Soviet Union
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM)
Gorbachev, Mikhail
Nuclear warfare
Reagan, Ronald
Akhromeev, Sergei Fedorovich, 1923-
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
United States
United States. President (1977-1981 : Carter). Presidential Directive 59
Deterrence (Strategy)
Nuclear arms control
Yakovlev, Alexander Nikolaevich
International relations
Warsaw Treaty Organization
Strategic Defense Initiative
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles
Moscow, Russia
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Batenin, Heli, 1929- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Heli Batenin, 1987,” 12/29/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Heli Batenin, 1987.” 12/29/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Heli Batenin, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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