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

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Kandury Subramanvan (Subrahmanyam) was an official in India’s Ministry of Defense. In the interview, he offers his views on China’s 1964 test, determining immediately that India should get a device of its own. He then explains why India should get a bomb, even though its own preference was for disarmament. At the time, he acknowledges, the Indian government did not take very seriously Pakistan’s declared intent to develop a bomb. Although India participated vigorously in preparing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it did not eventually sign it because of feelings of discrimination. The Bangladesh crisis of 1971 cemented the realization that India faced a potential combination of powerful forces – the United States, China, Pakistan, for example – that elevated the country’s concern about its security. In part, he says, this explains India’s friendship treaty with the USSR. When India exploded its test device in 1974, his reaction was “at last ... the people have done it.” He discusses Indira Gandhi’s motivations for the test and the gains it produced for the country. He then responds to several questions about nonproliferation in the 1960s and 1970s, Pakistan’s enrichment program, and other countries’ nuclear activities, then comments on broader issues concerning India’s current security needs, why countries pursue nuclear weapons, and how he sees the next decade of the nuclear age. He closes by concluding Pakistan possesses the bomb but that it is more likely to bring about stability than increase tensions with India.

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



Interview with Kandury Subramanvam, 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

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International Atomic Energy Agency
Deterrence (Strategy)
Bhaba, Homi J.
Gandhi, Indira, 1917-1984
Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali
Nuclear energy
Nuclear nonproliferation
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
South Africa
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
United States
Nuclear-weapon-free zones
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
Nuclear weapons
Nuclear disarmament
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 1889-1964
Soviet Union
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Subrahmanyam, K. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Kandury Subramanvam, 1987,” 02/21/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Kandury Subramanvam, 1987.” 02/21/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Kandury Subramanvam, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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