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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Vladimir Petrovsky, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Vladimir Petrovsky (Petrovskii) is a Soviet diplomat who rose to the post of First Deputy Foreign Minister from 1986-1991. Earlier in his career, he served for a number of years in the U.N. Secretariat, later (1992) becoming Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. He begins this interview by analyzing the factors behind detente, notably the realization that political means, not military ones, were required to deal with the tense bilateral relationship. He describes Soviet negotiating styles and considerations, including what it was like to face Nixon and Kissinger, and the challenges of adapting to changes in American administrations in the midst of negotiations. He recalls welcoming the SALT I treaty, with "great enthusiasm." He presents his views of the Carter administration and the differences represented by Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski, then switches topics to discuss the "revolutionary" changes taking place in the USSR. He returns to the Carter period and issues such as linkage and the effect of African events on arms talks. He then discusses in turn: aspects of the Reykjavik summit, the achievements of SALT I and II, and the Helsinki process. He touches on other developments during the period and ends with some criticism of the Reagan administration for being "obsessed" with SDI and with a wry expression of hope that the U.S. would take the advice of its own Thomas Paine and display some "common sense."

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Carter's New World
Program Number



Interview with Vladimir Petrovsky, 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 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.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Nuclear arms control
Brzezinski, Zbigniew, 1928-
Soviet Union
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
United States
Summit meetings--Iceland--Reykjavik
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
International relations
Vance, Cyrus R. (Cyrus Roberts), 1917-2002
Moscow, Russia
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Petrovskii, Vladimir Fedorovich (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Vladimir Petrovsky, 1986,” 12/17/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Vladimir Petrovsky, 1986.” 12/17/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Vladimir Petrovsky, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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