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Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network Hardcover – 18 Jul 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (18 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1850658269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1850658269
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,003,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'...a fascinating, detailed account...' -- Washington Post Book World, October 2006

Corera's story of how Khan was eventually outed and ousted for his highly profitable nuclear freelancing is a page-turner. -- The Economist, 27 July 2006

From the Inside Flap

"Reads like a thriller. Corera's story, about one of the greatest threats to international security of which I am aware, is chilling and disturbing. As a former practitioner in the field, and one who has remained a close observer of issues related to nuclear proliferation, I found Shopping for Bombs a great read; it is detailed and well sourced, and full of useful insights. For anyone interested in
understanding the character of the threat posed by nuclear
proliferation today, it is essential reading." --Ambassador Robert L. Gallucci, Dean, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Packham on 13 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives an accurate (as far as I can gather) account of how Pakistan spread WMD to Iraq, Libya, North Korea, etc etc and it also gives an excellent account of how the security services MI6 traced and finally brought down the Network of A.Q.Khan along with the CIA. It shows how politics has played and is still playing a major part in protecting the Pakistani Government whilst it serves the wests purpose of fighting the Taliban. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in how WMD have spread around the globe, all in all an excellent book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was written by a reporter working for the BBC. It investigates how Pakistan set up its nuclear program and succeeded in producing the A-bomb, thanks in large part to the project's mastermind: Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. The author draws on a wide range of sources for his research, including: press articles, interviews, academic scholarship, TV bulletins, and reports published by various NGOs and UN institutions.

Corera chronicles his book as a loose biography of Dr. Khan. Beginning in the early 1970s, he describes how Khan studied metallurgical engineering at Dutch and German universities. Khan decided to keep illegal copies of important research data. This policy of storing sensitive information was of great importance in Khan's career, and was the source of his later political influence. It opened the doors of Pakistan's elite to him, and led to his appointment as director of the country's covert nuclear program. Thanks to his political connections, Khan succeeded in forming a secret network of states (Iran, Libya, North Korea) providing him with uranium enrichment and fusion technology in exchange for money and military equipment. This business was never an ongoing operation, and was conducted on an ad hoc basis to avoid detection. Khan amassed a fortune in the process.

The research in this book clearly indicates that Khan was given carte blanche to develop his activities by successive Pakistani governments. The secret services (ISI) regularly collaborated and planned operations with him. Khan was appointed as the director of his own research facility (Khan Research Laboratories) with de-facto complete independence from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (which has links with western institutions).
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By Dave_42 on 8 May 2010
Format: Paperback
Gordon Corera's book "Shopping For Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A. Q. Khan Network" is an interesting read and offers a good history of what has gone wrong in the attempt to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. What is apparent from reading this book is that while A. Q. Khan is the face of what went wrong; if it hadn't been him then it would have been someone else. The book is divided into two fairly simple sections, "Rise" and "Fall". The "Rise" section covers the development of the bomb in Pakistan, as well as the development of Khan's network to sell the information. The "Fall" section details the discovery of the network, and the actions, often painfully slow, to deal with the issue by the U.S. and other western countries.

A. Q. Khan is an interesting person. Clearly he is very intelligent, but at times a bit careless and foolhardy. He used his circumstances and the political situation in the world skillfully to get the technology and money and other resources from numerous sources. He allowed the development in Pakistan to be looked at as the creation of an "Islamic Bomb" to other Muslim countries, but had no issue with dealing with North Korea as well, and so in his way he was simply a capitalist, dealing in a product which was not approved of in the west. He also used capitalism in the west to purchase what he needed. Companies would sell it to him, because otherwise someone else would, and if something was completely prohibited, then he would buy the components.

From a perspective of stopping Pakistan and Khan, attempts were made, and even successful for periods of time, but what happened again and again was that more immediate concerns would trump non-proliferation goals.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent, easy to read narrative of the AQK story. I felt it was a little bit repetitive at times but a good read nevertheless. If you are interested in nuclear politics then I would recommend
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 18 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Ego = mc squared 21 Sep 2006
By T. R. Santhanakrishnan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The nuclear five missed an opportunity to give up their arsenal and get everyone's covenant to stay away from the bomb. It is only natural that some states and some nations sought to avoid the "less than equal" status by joining the nuclear club overtly and covertly.

Pakistan is probably the only state that was smart enough to get the bomb but not wise enough to "control" access to technology. Individuals were more important than institutions. A Q Khan used the nation's need for a bomb to create a personal fiefdom that was beyond any institutionalized control. Benazir Bhutto, the PM of Pakistan, could not visit his laboratories and got her first glimpse of Khan's facility and work when the United States shared with her the results of their espionage!

A Q Khan used his intelligence and his ability to manage perceptions to create several myths:
(a) He was not the father of Pakistan's bomb. The bomb came from PAEC and its scientists Munir Khan and Mubarakmand. (Khan had a parallel initiative in Kahuta but did not have enough "cold test" experiences to do the honours). Khan was however the one to take the limelight and give an exaggerated impression of his role. The nation took to the flamboyant A Q K and ignored the true heroes of PAEC.
(b) He was not keeping Pakistan's interest in mind. Z A Bhutto was astute in stating that Pakistan's bomb should not take the image of an Islamic bomb. Khan ignored this, and for personal gain, in an uncontrolled manner sold technology (stolen from URENCO) to Iran, Libya and North Korea. For money. Without approval from Pakistan's policy makers.

Increasing insensitivity to oppressed causes, increasing unwillingness of majority to live with a homogenous minority, increasing conflict between nations and states have all enhanced threats from terrorism and threats from rogue states for humanity.

A Q Khan's clanedestine one stop shopping mall for nuclear technology to anyone with money (and often poor credentials) may have handed terrorists and rogue states their first chance to acquire technology that has so far been under the rigorous control of responsible States including the State of Pakistan. At relatively inexpensive prices.

A Q Khan has endangered the World and has significantly affected Pakistan's image as a responsible State.

Gordon Correra traces the history of Khan's rise and fall. The author must have worked hard to get all the facts from a very sensitive nation, on a very sensitive issue. The author continues to sustain the reader's interest and attention by an easy and narrative style. Yet the book has enough material for a serious researcher to pursue further.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A top recommendation for both general-interest collections strong in terrorist studies and military holdings. 8 Feb 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A.Q. Khan was the world's leading black market dealer in nuclear technology and a hero in Pakistan: Khan was known as the Father of the Bomb and built a global network selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. It's surprising to note that this is the first book-length survey of the rise and fall of the man and his role in spreading nuclear technology. It use interviews with politicians and key members of his own network to survey not only Khan's life and influence on the spread of nuclear technology, but the methods and intentions of the rogue states who bought from him. New details on how the CIA penetrated his network and broke his ring makes for a unique and eye-opening analysis which is a top recommendation for both general-interest collections strong in terrorist studies and military holdings.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Nice research, though lot of it unsubstantiated 10 Oct 2006
By Purvesh Khona - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent piece of work on Nuclear Proliferation. Things that I would have liked to see in this book :

*) Substantiated material with actual interviews with intelligence officers. Author uses lots of qoutes from private conversations, but how did he get access to those ? That makes me question a bit the authencity of the research.

*) The book keeps on jumping back and forth, which is an excellent case to muddy the presentation. I would have liked a chronological order maintained in the book so that thought processes can be collected and processed efficiently.

Overall it is an eye-opener.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Losing Focus 8 May 2010
By Dave_42 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Gordon Corera's book "Shopping For Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A. Q. Khan Network" is an interesting read and offers a good history of what has gone wrong in the attempt to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. What is apparent from reading this book is that while A. Q. Khan is the face of what went wrong; if it hadn't been him then it would have been someone else. The book is divided into two fairly simple sections, "Rise" and "Fall". The "Rise" section covers the development of the bomb in Pakistan, as well as the development of Khan's network to sell the information. The "Fall" section details the discovery of the network, and the actions, often painfully slow, to deal with the issue by the U.S. and other western countries.

A. Q. Khan is an interesting person. Clearly he is very intelligent, but at times a bit careless and foolhardy. He used his circumstances and the political situation in the world skillfully to get the technology and money and other resources from numerous sources. He allowed the development in Pakistan to be looked at as the creation of an "Islamic Bomb" to other Muslim countries, but had no issue with dealing with North Korea as well, and so in his way he was simply a capitalist, dealing in a product which was not approved of in the west. He also used capitalism in the west to purchase what he needed. Companies would sell it to him, because otherwise someone else would, and if something was completely prohibited, then he would buy the components.

From a perspective of stopping Pakistan and Khan, attempts were made, and even successful for periods of time, but what happened again and again was that more immediate concerns would trump non-proliferation goals. Whether it was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or the perceived terror threat after September 11th, time and time again the U.S. Government, and the Europeans would have their attentions focused elsewhere and Pakistan and Khan were not their biggest problem, and that Pakistan was too useful in dealing with other issues to crack down on them.

"Shopping for Bombs" covers a very interesting subject and the events within it will continue to shape our world for a long time to come. If non-proliferation is important, what can we do to keep focus on that issue, or is the genie out of the bottle now and we simply have to live with the fact that any country and perhaps any organization, can procure nuclear weapons if they have the funds and the will? It is not an easy question to answer, and the answers may not be easy to live with. The writing in this book was a bit repetitive for my tastes, but definitely readable. It probably could have been significantly shorter without the repetition of events, and perhaps it was put in to pad the book to about 250 pages. It does have a good set of notes though, and I would give it three and a half stars if I could, but they don't allow that so I am rounding down to three.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Nuclear technology for sale 13 July 2008
By BernardZ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found it a fascinating of how one man could become a major dealer in nuclear technology.

The lax security in the European nuclear program allowed a Pakistani engineer Khan to steal the centrifuge designs. Khan took those designs to Pakistan to help create a nuclear bomb there. Soon Khan became the head of a major nuclear organization in Pakistan. Soon the Pakistani had developed centrifuges technology that could bypass the international controls on making nuclear bombs.

Here contrary to the writer, I am not so sure from his evidence the US atomic program for peace failed as he suggested. The appeal of Khan technology to rogue countries was they could bypass the checks here. So Khan sold this technology for large sums to Iran, Libya, North Korea and maybe one more.

Part of the problem stopping Khan was finding what was happening. Then it was his prestige in Pakistan. Plus the free world's need for Pakistani support both in the cold war and the war in Afghanistan after 911 but eventually in January 2004, under world pressure Khan was arrested and put under house arrest. So finally stopping Khan, leaving us with a problem of knowing how much damage Khan did!

Now it is a few years since the book was written. Iran is still trying to make a bomb. At best, Khan would have given it a boost. The Libyan spent much money for nothing and eventually gave up on nuclear bombs, so his contribution there was useless. North Korea appears according to recent information gave up earlier on this type of uranium enrichment technology and went back to the power reactor method. Maybe he helped with the bomb design. The last unknown country, I cannot comment.

Finally I am left wondering what happened to the money the Pakistani got from these countries? Khan lived a good life but he did not take much of the money. I suspect that it went to the Pakistan's nuclear program which I find a disturbing conclusion.

Overall if you are interested in this, you will find this a fascinating read.
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