Part of the Global Perspectives on War and Peace Collection. Satellite Summit featuring debate on the United States' proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which would protect the U.S. from nuclear missile attack (presumably from the Soviet Union). Expert panelists in Washington D.C. debate with panelists in Hamburg, Germany via satellite.
0:00Copy video clip URL Title sequence for Satellite Summit.
0:35Copy video clip URL Host Hodding Carter sets the scene for the debate: the U.S. and the Soviet Union have been unsuccessfully attempting to negotiate an arms control agreement for a long time. This program will feature a panel of experts from both sides of the debate, and will feature a discussion of the technologies that fuel both the arms race and the talks. He introduces the Washington, D.C. guests: Jan Martenson, undersecretary general for disarmament at the United Nations; Dr. Alan Mense, acting chief scientist for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization; and William Colby, former director of the C.I.A.
1:23Copy video clip URL Carter introduces the Hamburg panel, connected via satellite. The panel includes: Richard Garwin, physicist and defense consultant from the U.S.; Roald Sagdeyev, Soviet astrophysicist; Lord Alun Chalfont, chairman of the defense committee in the House of Lords; and Christoph Bertram, former director for the Institute of Strategic Studies.
2:14Copy video clip URL Carter explains that the goal of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is “a comprehensive, layered defense of the United States against a nuclear ballistic missile attack. The defense would intercept attacking missiles during each phase of their flight.”
2:35Copy video clip URL Computer animation demonstrates how the SDI might work.
3:48Copy video clip URL Carter asks experts what the goal of the US government is for the missile defense program and how it will be implemented. Allen Mense explains that Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev would consider the system to be an insurance policy more than an actual defense system. He says that currently, missile defense systems are almost non-existent, and that we are only “safe” due to fear of reprisals. He says that “should deterrents fail, the price is very high” and that the best solution is to have technology in place that would make it impossible for anyone to launch a ballistic missile.
8:40Copy video clip URL Carter asks how the defense system would be non-nuclear if it were to be run by nuclear power. Mense says the U.S. is considering the use of nuclear power to run a missile defense system, as the Soviet Union has already done to power satellites.
10:05Copy video clip URL Satellite panel explains Soviet point of view on missile defense system. They believe that the Soviet Union and the United States should both consider developing SDI systems, but that could cause an escalation in the arms race.
13:10Copy video clip URL Richard Garwin explains US position on the Soviet’s technological capabilities. He thinks that the defense program is a fantasy of Ronald Regan’s not based on actual scientific information about the Soviets. He claims that a missile defense system is “an excellent weapon in destabilizing the ABM treaty” concerning nuclear tests.
14:10Copy video clip URL Carter asks Washington panel about the actual state of Soviet technology. FBI representative disagrees with Hamburg panel and claims the Soviets are more technologically advanced than others claim, noting that the Soviets have the only currently operating SDI system in the world. He also claims the extent of Soviet technology would allow a faster and cheaper implementation of SDI systems.
16:50Copy video clip URL Carter asks Washington panel whether Europeans would be able to implement their own missile defense program.
17:30Copy video clip URL Christoph Bertram claims that this is not the issue; Europeans do not want to take part in this program.
18:40Copy video clip URL Carter questions whether the program is technically feasible for any country: “if it’s not going to work, what’s the problem?”
19:15Copy video clip URL Soviet scientist Roald Sagdeyev claims that the program makes some Soviet leaders nervous because of the defense related technologies being developed might lead to a continuation of the U.S. and Soviet arms race. The Soviet Union would only develop a strategic missile defense program in response to U.S. and western threats. Garwin explains that the Soviet’s system is frightening not as a defense, but because it could augment a surprise attack by the Soviets.
21:45Copy video clip URL Carter introduces trans-Atlantic taped responses where people on the street explain their opinions and understanding of the defense program. People are divided with many not fully understanding the issue and many having a sophisticated knowledge. “If it were 95% effective in stopping Soviet missiles, it would still be ineffective because the 5% would be enough to destroy the United States.”
23:55Copy video clip URL People on the street are asked about their opinions on arms talks. Citizens (primarily from the United States) are once again divided. “A country which is invulnerable to attack is much more likely to attack another one.” “I have lived under Communists, and their idea is to conquer the world, and if we don’t have a way to prevent that, they will go ahead and do it.” “If we had been willing to scrap Star Wars, both sides might have been willing to negotiate.” “I won’t live that long, but I would hope things get straightened out. Personally, I don’t think Soviet people want nuclear things either.”
24:55Copy video clip URL Hamburg panel explains European view. Lord Alun Chalfont claims that his concern comes from statements from scientists saying that the system is not technologically possible before conducting all the research. He believes that mutually assured destruction is not the best policy for deterrence. “The consequences are devastating.” He says we must investigate a non-nuclear defense option, and only resort to nuclear options if this proves absolutely impossible.
29:45Copy video clip URL Bertram claims that it is ridiculous that people are still discussing the program as “feasible, on the horizon, as something we have to come to grips with, while the likelihood of it ever coming about is not very great,” negating the possibility of current peaceful negotiations.
31:20Copy video clip URL Sagdeyev says that Bertram is incorrect, the Soviets are offering concessions simply because it is easier than having to build a missile defense system, not because it is impossible for them to build.
32:55Copy video clip URL Carter tries to focus the discussion away from scientific issues and also to open the discussion to non-US, European or Soviet citizens.
33:35Copy video clip URL Jan Martenson expresses concern on the behalf of the rest of the U.N. nations about the intentions of the U.S. and whether they are trying to prevent or cause an arms race. He believes bi-lateral negotiations are currently a step in the right direction.
35:00Copy video clip URL Carter asks whether the issue is well understood amongst the general population.
35:20Copy video clip URL Martenson claims there is a growing and strong concern among the general population. The U.N. wants fact-based information about these programs distributed to the people of the world so that they may form their own opinions.
37:00Copy video clip URL William Colby, former CIA director, explains that while there is a general concern about the current arms race, it is not a well-understood issue.
37:55Copy video clip URL Carter introduces a montage about the history of weapons of mass destruction and the arms race between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Treaties and technological advances are highlighted.
41:08Copy video clip URL Carter claims that if nothing else, SDI has unified discussions and brought the nuclear issue to the forefront encouraging negotiations.
41:53Copy video clip URL Allen Mense claims that SDI should not be viewed as a solution to arms programs and that it may not be effective or affordable. He claims it is much better to actually reduce arms held by individual countries. He also claims that in some circumstances, a defense system could be use to protect an offensive system. He adds that this would not be an affordable system for either side.
44:35Copy video clip URL Hamburg panel responds. Sagdeyev agrees that reducing arms is obviously the best solution, and not only that, but that the defense system would be threatening on its own. He states that the same missiles used to kill offensive nuclear missiles could modified and directed at a country.
46:30Copy video clip URL Chalfont claims that one cannot negotiate about weapons systems that don’t exist, and that more research needs to be done before dismissing the idea. He also claims that television viewers should know that the studio audience is almost entirely of the same opinion and that they should not take the applause to think that general opinion worldwide is unified.
48:50Copy video clip URL Garwin emphasizes that the missile defense system’s purpose was never to protect people from an attack, but to confuse planning on the behalf of a country intending to attack, because the system would only be able to prevent attack on half of the U.S. military locations targeted by the Soviet Union.
50:15Copy video clip URL Carter requests input from the panelists on how to reduce the threat of nuclear annihilation. He asks for an outline for a supposed universally proposed program to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely.
51:30Copy video clip URL Colby claims that we have to seek the middle ground between the positions of Regan and Gorbechev.
53:29Copy video clip URL Mense claims that Regan has not made any concessions. Martenson claims that the arms race is the tip of the iceberg for international relations.
54:55Copy video clip URL Hamburg panel tries to explain what would constitute a middle ground. Carter interrupts speakers to end the program.
56:15Copy video clip URL End credits roll.
58:35Copy video clip URL Carter introduces the second hour with an emphasis on scientists participation in this edition of the program.
59:45Copy video clip URL Opening intro sequence for second hour, with Carter emphasizing a scientific and economical focus.
1:00:45Copy video clip URL A montage presents historical position of scientists on weapons of mass destruction and the arms race.
1:01:40Copy video clip URL End of Tape.