Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network

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A.Q. Khan was the world's leading black market dealer in nuclear technology, described by a former CIA Director as "at least as dangerous as Osama bin Laden." A hero in Pakistan and revered as the Father of the Bomb, Khan built a global clandestine network that sold the most closely guarded nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya.

Here for the first time is the riveting inside story of the rise and fall of A.Q. Khan and his role in the devastating spread of nuclear technology over the last thirty years. Drawing on exclusive interviews with key players in Islamabad, London, and Washington, as well as with members of Khan's own network, BBC journalist Gordon Corera paints a truly unsettling picture of the ultimate arms bazaar. Corera reveals how Khan operated within a world of shadowy deals among rogue states and how his privileged position in Pakistan provided him with the protection to build his unique and deadly business empire. It explains why and how he was able to operate so freely for so many years. Brimming with revelations, the book provides new insight into Iran's nuclear ambitions and how close Tehran may be to the bomb.

In addition, the book contains startling new information on how the CIA and MI6 penetrated Khan's network, how the U.S. and UK ultimately broke Khan's ring, and how they persuaded Pakistan's President Musharraf to arrest a national hero. The book also provides the first detailed account of the high-wire dealings with Muammar Gadaffi, which led to Libya's renunciation of nuclear weapons and which played a key role in Khan's downfall.

The spread of nuclear weapons technology around the globe presents the greatest security challenge of our time. Shopping for Bombs presents a unique window into the challenges of stopping a new nuclear arms race, a race that A.Q. Khan himself did more than any other individual to promote.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It is tempting to demonize A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani engineer who became infamous for selling nuclear weapons designs and production equipment to North Korea, Iran, Libya and perhaps others. If Khan is written off as simply evil, then his deeds can be written off as peculiar sins that do not reflect flaws in the international system. Unfortunately, life is more complicated, as the BBC reporter Gordon Corera vividly narrates in his fine new book. Shopping for Bombs is more than the fast-paced story of an alarming proliferation network and the conditions that let it flourish. Corera also offers a fascinating, detailed account of how Libya surprised the world with its undetected nuclear acquisitions and how the United States and Britain secretly persuaded Moammar Gaddafi to verifiably give them up. Corera takes readers briskly through real policy conundrums without lapsing into wonk talk."--George Perkovich, Washington Post Book World

"A measured account of how a young Pakistani metallurgist became the world's leading dealer in nuclear technology. Drawing on CIA and diplomatic accounts of the spread of technology, Corera examines why the Americans initially looked the other way as Pakistan joined forces in arming the mujahideen in Afghanistan before becoming an ally in the hunt for bin Laden."--Publishers Weekly

"A page-turner."--The Economist

"Shopping for Bombs tells a disturbing tale.... From the 1970s through the 1990s, Khan secretly disseminated nuclear technology to a number of rogue states around the world. The full story of Khan's activities cannot yet be fully told--much information is under lock and key in Pakistan, if it has been preserved at all--but a persuasive preliminary account has been prepared by Gordon Corera."--The Wall Street Journal

"Gordon Corera has written a book you will not be able to put down. It reads like a thriller, but it is true! He has done an impressive job in researching and describing the extraordinary threat we face from nuclear weapons falling into the hands of those who wish us harm."--Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University and author of The Power Game: A Washington Novel

"A superb account of how A.Q. Khan, the pioneer of nuclear black marketeering, exploited the forces of globalization and loopholes in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to provide what IAEA Secretary General, Mohamed El-Baradei, called the 'Wal-Mart of private sector proliferation'."--Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor, J. F. K. School of Government, Harvard University

"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

"Corera's book magnificently sheds light on the activities of A.Q. Khan and rogue regimes around the world. In today's world of heightened nuclear tensions, this invaluable exposé represents a must-read for both policymakers and the general public." --Steven Emerson, author of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us

"Shopping for Bombs is a clearly written and fascinating account of one of the most important episodes in the history of weapons of mass destruction--Pakistan's illicit and successful effort to build nuclear weapons and then to spread nuclear materials across the globe, an effort spearheaded by the maverick scientist A.Q. Khan. Corera has produced an even handed and absorbing history of that important story."--Peter Bergen, fellow of the New America Foundation and author of The Osama bin Laden I Know and Holy War, Inc.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195375237
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/21/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 393,109
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon Corera is a Security Correspondent for BBC News. He covers counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, and international security issues for BBC TV, Radio, and Online. He has writen extensively on the British and American intelligence community and has worked as a foreign affairs reporter for Britain's Today show. He was educated at Oxford and Harvard Universities and joined the BBC in 1997.

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Table of Contents

Taranto--October 2003
Part I: Rise
1. Roots
2. The Bomb
Natanz--February 2003
3. Iran--From Import to Export
Chagai Hills-May 1998
4. North Korea--Pyongyang and Back
Jordan--August 1995
5. The Network Expands--The Libya Deal
Part II: Fall
6. Picking up the Trail
Washington, DC--September 2001
7. Watching
London--March 2003
8. Dealing with Gadaffi
New York--September 2003
9. Confronting Musharraf--Dealing with Khan
Kuala Lumpur--November 2003
10. Unraveling the Network
Epilogue: The Spread

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