Bombs We Can Stop

Matthew Bunn in American Scientist:

Screenhunter_28_sep_26_1536William Langewiesche has the reputation of being one of America’s best investigative reporters. Unfortunately, he has written a very bad book on nuclear proliferation. Although The Atomic Bazaar does include some useful reporting, it is marred by substantive errors and misjudgments. There are no footnotes, and almost all the quoted sources are anonymous, making it difficult for the reader to judge the credibility of Langewiesche’s conclusions and of his interlocutors’ statements. Worse, if policy makers were to accept his major theme—that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable and there is little hope in trying to stop it—they would not take the actions needed to make the world a safer place.

The Atomic Bazaar is a modest elaboration on three articles by Langewiesche that appeared this past winter in The Atlantic Monthly. If you have read the articles—which discuss nuclear terrorism and outline A. Q. Khan’s role in building Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and in leading a global black-market network that supplied dangerous nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea—you will not gain a great deal from the book.

More here.