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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book
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...
Published on 13 Dec 2009 by R. Packham

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good investigative journalism
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 on 26 Jan 2012 by Mark Stokle


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book, 13 Dec 2009
By 
R. Packham "Ray Packham" (Brighton Sussex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network (Paperback)
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Good investigative journalism, 26 Jan 2012
By 
Mark Stokle (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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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). Despite the fact that most western intelligence agencies had knowledge of his activities, it wasn't until after Pakistan successfully conducted its first nuclear tests in 1998 that Khan's days became numbered. Following mounting US pressure, Khan was placed under house arrest in 2004 and later "confessed" his guilt on Pakistani television. He was pardoned by Pervez Musharraf, and remains a national hero for many Pakistanis.

The principal drawback of this book is that even though it presents a damning indictment of the West's inaction over Pakistan's illegal nuclear program, its perspective remains strongly western. This transpires in Corera's discussion of how Khan's televised admission of guilt was received in Pakistan itself. The author never really asks himself why thousands of Pakistanis admire this man, and why Pakistan felt it needed to build the bomb (although he does mention India). Furthermore, Corera probably didn't travel to places like Iran, Libya, and North Korea to collect information for his book. This limits his neutrality somewhat; but given the sensitive nature of the topic, only an insider could really give you the full story.

All in all, this is an interesting read. It's unlikely that details of Khan's program will emerge soon, which makes this book even more germane. Considering the West's recent threats of intervention against Iran's nuclear program, one wonders why there is so little outrage over Pakistan. A question of double-standards no doubt. Should you develop a further interest in Pakistan, then I strongly recommend you pick up "Crossed Swords" by Shuja Nawaz - a very thorough examination of Pakistan's army.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Losing Focus, 8 May 2010
This review is from: Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network (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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, easy to read narrative of the AQK story, 25 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network (Paperback)
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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