GBH Openvault

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Sergei Policknov, 1986 [2]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Sergei Policknov was a Soviet physicist who worked on the nuclear program under Igor Kurchatov beginning in the late 1940s. In this brief interview he talks about the development of the Soviet nuclear program, and describes the feeling in the Soviet Union that building nuclear weapons was a natural reaction to World War II and an important part of Soviet national defense. He comments briefly on the role of pro-Moscow spies in helping the Soviet program. He then recalls the reactions of Soviet physicists after the successful explosion of their first atomic bomb in 1945. He also describes the research done to further develop the Soviet nuclear program in the early 1950s, including their work with hydrogen and uranium. Finally, he recounts an amusing tale and paints an admiring portrait of Dr. Kurchatov, the director of the Soviet atomic bomb project.

License Clip
Got it
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Weapon of Choice, The
Program Number



Interview with Sergei Policknov, 1986 [2]

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

The United States and the Soviet Union, former allies, become adversaries in a “Cold War,” and nuclear weapons become the weapon of choice for both sides.

From 1947 to 1953 the threat to use nuclear weapons became the principal currency of conflict. During the Korean War, Texas Congressman J. Frank Wilson said, “We are dealing with mad dogs ... we must treat them accordingly. I urge the atomic bomb be used if it can be used efficiently.” Against this background, President Harry Truman made crucial decisions that affected the history of the Nuclear Age. The United states deployed the B-36, a huge intercontinental bomber. It started mass production of atomic bombs. In 1952, the US exploded the first hydrogen bomb, a quantum leap in destructive force. Less than a year later, the Soviet Union exploded its own hydrogen bomb.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Soviet Union
Kurchatov, I. V. (Igor Vasil'evich), 1903-1960
Hydrogen bomb
Fuchs, Klaus Emil Julius, 1911-1988
Nuclear weapons
Sakharov, Andrei, 1921-1989
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
Paris, France
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Policknov, Sergei (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Sergei Policknov, 1986 [2],” 03/16/1986, GBH Archives, accessed July 16, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Sergei Policknov, 1986 [2].” 03/16/1986. GBH Archives. Web. July 16, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Sergei Policknov, 1986 [2]. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.