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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with George Shultz, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


George Shultz served as the Secretary of State from 1982-1989. In the interview he discusses the negotiating process between the United States and Soviet Union and notes the willingness of both sides to press ahead despite the difficulty of the issues. He ascribes the changes that occurred in the talks since early in the Reagan administration to events on the ground in Europe and potentially to the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. He describes developments at the Reykjavik, Moscow and Washington summits, and explains various arms control proposals, including the zero and double zero options. The INF Treaty, he notes, was the product of collaboration by all the NATO allies, and he counts the importance of alliance cohesion among the lessons of his experience with arms control.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Zero Hour
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Interview with George Shultz, 1986

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 Reagan and Soviet Secretary Gorbachev sign the INF Agreement to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons from Europe. No one had expected the European Missile Crisis to end this way.

The story begins in 1979, when the Western Allies were worried about the Soviet Union’s buildup of SS-20 nuclear missiles aimed at Western Europe. Under pressure from the Carter Administration, NATO issued a threat, if the SS-20s were not removed, NATO would install new American missiles in Europe. The threat revived the dormant anti-nuclear movement in Western Europe, giving them an anti-American tone. In 1981, President Reagan made a proposal that the US would cancel deployment of the missiles if the Soviet Union would dismantle all the intermediate range missiles it had pointed at Europe. This was the “zero-zero” option. The Soviet Union was entering a period of change with three leaders dying in three years. In 1986 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev offered to accept the “zero-zero” option and in 1987 the INF agreement was signed.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Strategic Defense Initiative
United States
Summit meetings--Iceland--Reykjavik
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1987 December 8 ---
Nuclear weapons
Nuclear arms control
Reagan, Ronald
Pershing (Missile)
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Gorbachev, Mikhail
International relations
Soviet Union
Schmidt, Helmut, 1918 Dec. 23-
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Shultz, George Pratt, 1920- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with George Shultz, 1986,” 03/28/1986, GBH Archives, accessed July 16, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with George Shultz, 1986.” 03/28/1986. GBH Archives. Web. July 16, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with George Shultz, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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