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Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret…

Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking (edition 2011)

by Catherine Collins (Author), Douglas Frantz (Author)

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302367,255 (3.5)None
Title:Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking
Authors:Catherine Collins (Author)
Other authors:Douglas Frantz (Author)
Info:Free Press (2011), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:history, america, intelligence, pakistan, iran, nuclear weapons

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Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking by Catherine Collins



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An engaging survey of CIA counter-proliferation efforts over the past several decades. At its best, the book provides a window into real intelligence operations. The authors' argument that the CIA over-prioritized information over counter-proliferation, however, falls short. It is all well and good to observe that, in hindsight, it seems misguided to not prevent A. Q. Kahn from stealing centrifuge designs in 1975. The authors overreach, however, when they repeatedly argue that the CIA continued to mistakenly let proliferation activities continue out of an excessive interest in gathering more information. Perhaps that is what happened, but the evidence provided does not prove that. When rendering such a biting judgment (and one that has serious policy consequences), the standards of proof are high.

A surprising oversight in the book is the Syrian nuclear program, which receives scant attention. The 2007 Israeli air strike ("Operation Orchard") on a Syrian nuclear reactor occurred within the timeframe of this book. To omit this major event, as well as its implications for the scope of the proliferation network, seriously undermines the book's utility as anything approaching a comprehensive survey.

In short, read this as an introduction to the scope of the A. Q. Kahn proliferation network but do not draw overly-broad policy conclusions from it. ( )
1 vote JLHeim | Jun 2, 2012 |
More than a high-stakes espionage thriller, Fallout painstakingly examines the huge costs of the CIA’s errors and the lost opportunities to halt the spread of nuclear weapons technology long before it was made available to some of the most dangerous and reckless adversaries of the United States and its allies. At its heart, this book stands as a sober warning to citizens and policymakers in the United States and throughout the world. Only sheer luck has allowed us to avoid a nuclear catastrophe so far. If failures like those recounted in Fallout are not remedied, and if fighting nuclear proliferation does not become the number one priority of the world’s governments, we will assuredly run out of luck one of these days.
  SalemAthenaeum | Oct 4, 2011 |
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Fallout takes reader inside the CIA's covert operation to penetrate A. Q. Khan's weapons intelligence network and exposes the agency's desperate and ultimately flawed plans to sabotage the nuclear programs of Iran and Libya.

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