From Publishers Weekly
Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, offers an uneven exposé on the illicit trade in nuclear technology and the threats it poses to American security. Following in the traces of such earlier investigations as Gordon Correra's Shopping for Bombs (2006), Albright details how the convergence of easy money and weak [export] controls on the sale of high tech equipment created a perfect storm that was easily exploited by North Korea and such rogue proliferators as A.Q. Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, who established a transnational network of smugglers to sell nuclear weapons capabilities to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. Albright also examines the efforts of al-Qaeda to obtain nuclear weapons and the cat-and-mouse game between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency over that nation's nuclear ambitions. While acknowledging that nuclear proliferation is difficult to detect and stop, the author cautions against fatalism—a deadly foe—but the turgid prose and esoteric nuclear tutorials slow the narrative and likely will tax the understanding, if not patience, of lay readers.
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A former CIA and NSA intelligence analyst who heads an organization that monitors nuclear proliferation, Albright traces in disturbing detail exactly how nuclear technology has proliferated worldwide in the last 20 years. The trail leads back to the infamous Pakistani nuclear specialist A. Q. Khan, who began by stealing technology back in the 1970s from under the noses of his easily duped Dutch employer and a lax Dutch government, then sharing it, first with his home country and subsequently with Iran, Libya, and North Korea, along with Iraq, South Africa, even al-Qaeda. The shock is not only how far-reaching was Khan’s mischief but also how easily he carried it out, working with all-too-willing suppliers and around national governments that had neither the monitoring capabilities nor—even when Khan’s actions were discovered—the political will to stop him. Albright argues for establishing universal laws and norms against nuclear smuggling, securing existing nuclear stocks, and developing a globally interconnected system that would provide early detection of nuclear trade. A book that puts into context our genuine nuclear peril, while offering concrete ideas on how to reduce it. --Alan Moores