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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Morarji Desai, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Morarji Desai was Prime Minister of India from 1977-1979. In the interview he describes India’s commitment to nuclear disarmament. He explains that India refuses to sign non-proliferation agreements because the countries proposing them possess nuclear weapons. He compares the situation with being asked by robbers to agree not to steal. Asked if enough is being done to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, he implies that the answer is no with respect to the two superpowers. He adds that the independence of all peoples is important, not just that of large countries. India’s 1974 nuclear test, in his view, was not part of an effort to develop nuclear weapons, but was in fact something then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi did “just to show off.” He describes his amiable relations with President Carter; however he reiterates his refusal to sign non-proliferation agreements with countries that possess nuclear weapons.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Haves and Have-Nots
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Interview with Morarji Desai, 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

A case study of the dynamics of nuclear proliferation: China triggers India and India triggers Pakistan in the competition to have their own nuclear weapons.

In 1953 President Eisenhower announced the Atoms for Peace program. This marked a total reversal of American foreign policy. Americans would give material to allow countries to build reactors. “So overnight we passed from nuclear middle age to nuclear renaissance,” recalls French atomic scientist Bertrand Goldschmidt. The Soviet Union started its own program and helped China learn to build a bomb. The first Chinese nuclear blast was in 1964. Indian defense expert K. Subrahmanyam recalls that a nuclear China prompted India to set off a “peaceful” nuclear explosion in 1974. “There is no such thing as a peaceful nuclear explosion,” responds General A. I. Akram of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. “’74 was a watershed. It brought the shadow of the bomb to South Asia, and that shadow is still there.”



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Soviet Union
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Nuclear energy
Nuclear disarmament
United States
Nuclear weapons
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 1889-1964
Gandhi, Indira, 1917-1984
Nuclear nonproliferation
United Nations
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Desai, Morarji, 1896-1995 (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Morarji Desai, 1987,” 02/12/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Morarji Desai, 1987.” 02/12/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Morarji Desai, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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