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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Subramanian Swamy, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Subramanian Swamy is an Indian politician who served in Parliament in the 1970s and 1980s (later becoming a Cabinet Minister), and a scholar who has written extensively on the foreign and economic affairs of India. In the interview he describes his role in the 1960s in demonstrating that India was able economically to afford to develop nuclear weapons. His reasons for supporting such a program stemmed from China's nuclear successes, which posed a threat to India and also showed how much a nation's prestige could be enhanced. Pakistan, he asserts, was not a factor at the time, though it became one after 1971. He argues that adopting a nuclear course was not inconsistent with India's traditions, particularly in the context of guaranteeing her independence. He recounts the attitudes of leading politicians toward the bomb -- including prime ministers Shastri (in favor), Indira Gandhi ("totally pacifist" and opposed) and Desai ("deadly opposed"). He contends that Gandhi finally chose to go ahead with a test in part to respond to Pakistan's program but also as a political act to boost her own popularity at home. Mr. Swamy was "very violently" opposed to the NPT. He describes aspects of the Indian program, names several key scientists involved, and notes the differences between the Indian test and an actual bomb. His reasons for supporting a bomb changed in the 1970s to include the concern that the United States after Vietnam would not be in a position to counter a possible Soviet intervention in the region. Other security concerns were the growth of Sino-Soviet tensions and the invasion of Afghanistan. Mr. Swamy also addresses the intertwined issues of Pakistan's nuclear program and President Jimmy Carter's proliferation policies. He concludes with an assessment of India's current nuclear thinking and the prospects for the next decade. He notes the disutility of using weapons in the region, including the deadly effects for India from wind blowing radioactivity from Pakistan over several Indian cities.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Carter's New World
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Interview with Subramanian Swamy, 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

President Carter comes to office determined to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and to improve relations with the Soviet Union. His frustrations are as grand as his intentions.

Carter had hoped the United States and the Soviet Union would reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons. He stopped production of the B-1 bomber. He believed the SALT II negotiations would be a step toward eliminating nuclear weapons. But his intentions were frustrated by Soviet actions and by a lack of consensus among his own advisors, including Chief SALT II negotiator Paul Warnke and national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (who was dubious about arms control). Carter balanced Soviet aggression in Africa by improving American relations with China. He withdrew SALT II treaty from Senate consideration but its terms continued to serve as general limits on strategic nuclear force levels for both the United States and the Soviet Union.



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Raw video

Media Type


Soviet Union
Desai, Morarji, 1896-1995
Ramanna, Raja, 1925-2004
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
United States. Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978
Nuclear energy
Shastri, Lal Bahadur, 1904-1966
Iyengar, P. K.
United States
Nuclear nonproliferation
Bhaba, Homi J.
Nuclear weapons
Nuclear disarmament
Sethna, Dr. Homi
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Gandhi, Indira, 1917-1984
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Swamy, Subramanian (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Subramanian Swamy, 1987,” 02/12/1987, GBH Archives, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Subramanian Swamy, 1987.” 02/12/1987. GBH Archives. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Subramanian Swamy, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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