Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb: A Story of Defiance, Deterrence, and Deviance

In This Review

Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb: A Story of Defiance, Deterrence, and Deviance
By Hassan Abbas
Oxford University Press, 2018
356 pp.

Abbas explores the ideological and political world of Abdul Qadeer Khan, commonly known as A. Q. Khan, the brilliant engineer who guided the development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and then sold the technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. Khan was a fervent patriot, a Muslim nationalist, an anti-Semite, an anti-American, and an overweening egoist. He proliferated nuclear technology both to spread his ideology and to satisfy his intense greed. Islamabad eventually labeled him a rogue proliferator, but along the way, he had many enablers. In the 1950s, the U.S. Atoms for Peace program built the foundation for Pakistan’s nuclear establishment. Western universities trained the scientists who later joined Khan’s team. European companies supplied him with components. Pakistani military and political leaders collaborated with Khan or turned a blind eye to his activities. Even today, Khan remains a national hero in Pakistan and lives under the protection of the government. Abbas’ diligent scrutiny of public sources and his intimate knowledge of Pakistani politics make this the most authoritative study yet written of Khan’s complicated story.

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