Book Reviews

11.28.12

The History Behind Pakistani Nuclear Proliferation

Kapil Komireddi has written a substantial, and quite critical, review of Feroz Khan's book, Eating Grass. Money quote:

Eating Grass reveals that Pakistan had untested bombs as early as 1990. But it does not answer the most significant charge against Pakistan's nuclear programme. Was the "Pakistani bomb" really the product of Pakistan's scientific ingenuity, or an accomplishment made possible by high-level theft of data and the undetected procurement of material by flouting western export controls? Washington, reliant in the 1980s on Pakistan's support in the fight against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, overlooked its proliferation activities. The Reagan White House kept Pakistan's programme hidden from Congress. Humiliating the Soviet Union was a bigger concern than nuclear proliferation.

"No other nuclear power," Khan declares in a final burst of nationalist pride, "acquired a nuclear capability under such obstacles and in the face of efforts to derail the programme; no other power without experience and support turned its rudimentary nuclear capability into operational deterrent forces; and no other power created a robust command-and-control system and constructed a nuclear security regime under immense pressure from western cynicism." Each of these assertions is contradicted by the facts contained in Khan's own pages.