One of the dilemmas researchers have is how to make their material accessible for a broader audience than just their peers.
Given the potential consequences of nuclear proliferation and the complexity of the issues, one would hope experts in this field could summarize issues in a way that policy makers (and the public) can understand and take action.
Unfortunately the author (who I respect tremendously,) and the book fails- the author provides a laundry list of facts and fails to integrate them in a coherent whole.
Nuclear weapons complex Trying to describe the dangers of proliferation without putting centrifuges in context of a weapons complex assumes the reader is a domain expert like the author. In the 244 pages of the book there wasn't a single description of the components of a weapons complex.
It would have been helpful to start with the U.S. Manhattan Project and describe and diagram what were the key facilities necessary for a Plutonium weapon. How were these facilities different for a U-235 weapon? Why did we and other countries choose both?
This introduction could have been done in a 2 pages and a simplified diagram of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.
Nuclear weapons Design The goal of fissile material production is a weapon. Using U-235 versus plutonium has benefits and drawbacks. What are they? Why are fusion weapons harder to produce?
This introduction to the weapons could have been done in a 1/2 page with a diagram of the two types of fission weapons and a third showing a fusion device.
U-235 Separation Choices Why did the U.S. initially use electromagnetic separation versus thermal, to produce U-235?Read more ›
A nice and necessary read about the spread of nuclear weapons. A.Q. Khan certainly did a number on the world. Khan took a 1970s design centrifuge and basically brought it to Pakistan to enrich uranium. He also bought parts for the enrichment process. The Chinese gave the Pakis the plans for the bomb, and wallah, the Islamic world has a nuclear member. Then to compound the issue, he offers it to every other jerk country in the world. These are the stellar members of the world community....North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libia, and apartheid South Africa. Of course if one of these countries every use these devices, then millions will die. That is A.Q. Khan, and his cohorts should be hunted down, and treated as war criminals. This includes the German brokers who made millions out of selling this technology.
If you read this book, you might wonder why people don't get mad at these individuals who have made the world insecure. They endangered the world's peace, so they could get rich.
Tech Historian has written a review about what is not in the book, and generally I agree that the book would have benefitted from Tech Historian's suggested additions to the book. However, I'm writing a review about the book that David Albright did write, a book about nuclear weapons proliferation in Pakistan, North Korea, South Africa, Iran and Libya.
The book is well organized; it deals with each country in a separate chapter so that you can keep track of the narrative for that country. The chapters are arranged in such a way that the story of one country is informed by information given in previous chapters about other countries. As you read each chapter, a larger narrative unfolds, linking together the activities of engineers, salesman, arms dealers, and politicians in a dozen countries. The book solidly achieves its purpose of knitting together thousands of details into one coherent, understandable story spanning decades and continents.
The book is written in a straightforward, clear accessible style. It seems to me (I'm not an expert on the subject) thoroughly researched, completely accurate, detailed and informative. Each sentence provides a piece of information; there is no filler. The research in each chapter is supported by dozens of references. Clearly David Albright has done his homework and he knows inside and out what he has written about.
If you want to know how impoverished countries such as North Korea or Pakistan, (and soon Iran), got nuclear weapons and how close we are to terrorists armed with nuclear weapons, then you'd do well to read this book. I hope you do.
More of a story than a academic quality, but you'll certainly come away understanding how A.Q. Khan's network worked and the profit seeking motives of those who participate in black markets of all kinds.