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.
Corera, a security correspondent for the BBC, offers a measured account of how a young Pakistani metallurgist named A.Q. Khan became the world's leading dealer in nuclear technology. The story starts as Khan watched Pakistan lose the 1971 war with India and vowed to help prevent it from happening again. Three years later, as India tested its first nuclear device, he offered Prime Minister Bhutto his help in creating the Muslim world's first nuclear bomb. In 1975, when his Dutch employer discovered Khan had stolen centrifuge designs, he fled to Pakistan. Though he was tried in absentia in 1983, it wasn't until January 2004, under pressure from the U.S. and Britain, that he was arrested for 30 years of selling nuclear materials and designs to Libya, North Korea and Iran. By the mid-1980s, Corera points out, the U.S. was aware that Pakistan had produced weapons-grade uranium. Drawing on CIA and diplomatic accounts of the spread of technology, Corera also 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.