Reykjavik in the spotlight

Reykjavik event in New York, September 2012

Click picture for more information on the Reykjavik event in Vienna, 2013.
The Author: Richard Rhodes
Actor Richard Easton played Ronald Reagan
Actor Jay O. Sanders played Mikhail Gorbachev
The Producer: Tyler Marchant

A staged reading of the play “Reykjavik” © by Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Rhodes, followed by a panel discussion and reception, was held at 18.30 on 27 September 2012 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, New York. The play re-enacts the moment in October 1986 at the Reykjavik summit in Iceland when U.S. President Ronald Reagan (Richard Easton) and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev (Jay O. Sanders) came close to abolishing all nuclear weapons.  More than 25 years later, the drama of the meeting and its potential to fundamentally change the course of history continues to ignite the imagination and inspire hopes for the future. The performance is directed by Tyler Marchant and produced by Primary Stages. See CTBTO Faces interview with author Richard Rhodes on his research for and the making of the play.

With the file on the Reykjavik negotiations declassified, key players from the summit are now able to speak freely.  In the panel discussion after the performance they considered lessons learned, opportunities missed and what is needed today to move forward in eliminating nuclear weapons. 

Former President Gorbachev delivered a video message to open the discussion.

Panel Discussion

The panel comprised:

  • Ambassador Max Kampelman, chief arms control negotiator for all summit meetings between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. 
  • Professor Roald Sagdeev, key science advisor to President Mikhail Gorbachev, counselling on matters of nuclear disarmament and advancing verification technology - see interview
  • Dr. Morton Halperin, advisor on both military affairs and arms control in the federal government, served in the Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton administrations - see interview
  • Richard Rhodes, acclaimed author of 24 works of fiction, non-fiction, biographies and memoirs. His work includes the play Reykjavik and The Making of the Atomic Bomb, the first of four volumes of nuclear history - see interview
  • Philip Taubman (moderator), an award winning journalist with the New York Times for almost thirty years, including stints as Bureau Chief in Washington and Moscow.


This event has been made possible by the generous financial contributions of the Government of Japan, which is sponsoring the panel discussion, the Governments of Australia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Sweden, and the Ploughshares Fund, as well as with the assistance of UNODA, UNDPI and the Global Security Institute.

For more information please read the press release.


Watch the Gorbachev interview with the CTBTO about the Reykjavik summit and nuclear weapons today.


All images from the staged reading of the play are © Richard Rhodes.