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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [1]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


In 1958, Ray Cline was chief of the CIA's Office of National Estimates and of its Taiwan station. In his interview conducted for War and Peace in the Nuclear Age: "A Bigger Bang for the Buck," Cline discusses the history, beginning, and challenges of systematic, coordinated intelligence gathering to collect hard data, particularly on the Soviet Union's existing and projected weapons systems. He recalls how he pieced together evidence that the relationship between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China had begun to fray badly, and long before many intelligence officers and U.S. policymakers could accept the idea of a schism.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
At the Brink
Program Number



Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [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

In October 1962, the Soviet Union and the United States are at the brink of nuclear war, the 13 most harrowing days in the nuclear age.

“I remember leaving the White House at the end of that Saturday and thinking that might well be the last sunset I ever saw,” recalls former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara of Black Saturday, the day the Cuban missile crisis pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war. Aleksandr Alexseev, Soviet ambassador to Cuba at the time, recalled, “We and the Cubans decided that, in order to avoid a United States invasion, we should supply Cuba with missiles.” The US effort to overthrow Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs was an expression of President Kennedy’s disbelief about the missiles in Cuba while it surprised Soviet leader Khrushchev according to his speechwriter,Feodor Burlatsky. Major General William Fairborne, speaks about how “We loaded whole blood and a hundred coffins onto the carrier Iwo Jima.” Looking back on those 13 days, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk reflects, “...we’ve got to find some way to inhabit this speck of dust in the universe at the same time.”



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Soviet Union
Korea (North)
United States. Air Force. Strategic Air Command
United States
Korean War, 1950-1953
Nuclear weapons
Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969
Mao, Zedong, 1893-1976
United States. Central Intelligence Agency
National Security Council (U.S.)
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
Nuclear arms control
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
Washington, DC
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Cline, Ray S. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [1],” 03/11/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [1].” 03/11/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [1]. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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