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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Arthur Hockaday, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


A long-time civil servant, Sir Arthur Hockaday held a number of senior posts from the 1960s to the early 1980s, including as Assistant Secretary of State, British Ministry of Defence, from 1969-1972, and member of the NATO international staff. In the interview he describes the establishment of the flexible response doctrine, and explains the differences between the American and European views on it. He discusses the studies done under Secretaries McNamara and Schlesinger that explored nuclear response options and the implications of using nuclear weapons on the battlefield. Sir Hockaday states that he does not believe in the seamless web idea, saying that it is impossible to be specifically prepared for every eventuality. He also discusses the possible Soviet response to a nuclear attack.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Zero Hour
Program Number



Interview with Arthur Hockaday, 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 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


McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
Zuckerman, Solly Zuckerman, Baron, 1904-1993
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Soviet Union
United States
Nuclear weapons
SS-20 Missile
Nuclear warfare
Schlesinger, James R.
SS-4 Missile
Schmidt, Helmut, 1918 Dec. 23-
Brown, Harold, 1927-
Tomahawk (Guided missile)
North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Nuclear Planning Group
Pershing (Missile)
SS-5 Missile
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Hockaday, Arthur (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Arthur Hockaday, 1987,” 11/11/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Arthur Hockaday, 1987.” 11/11/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Zero Hour; Interview with Arthur Hockaday, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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