Can we stop nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and South Asia--or anywhere else--is the question asked by...

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THE ISLAMIC BOMB

Can we stop nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and South Asia--or anywhere else--is the question asked by investigative reporters Weissman (formerly of Rampart,) and Krosney (a Jerusalem-based television writer and producer). So far, the major deterrents have been violent ones: the June 7 Israeli bombing of the Iraqi nuclear plant and some well-placed explosions in the vicinity of officials negotiating contracts with have-not countries. The irony of violence preempting violence is not lost as the authors survey shifting political deals and inept international agreements. The International Atomic Energy Agency can only inspect nuclear facilities in countries signing the Nonproliferation Treaty--countries that are given advance warning and reserve veto power to reject inspectors by nationality. Agency officials claim that firmer safeguards and more foolproof accounting systems can be implemented, but the authors' skepticism remains well-founded. On the other hand, the two sympathize with Mitterand: revision of the Iraqi contract was underway before the Israeli attack. Now France faces more complicated bargaining (with oil imports at stake) as the Saudis step in to subsidize the cost of the Iraqi reactor re-building. The geopolitical realities are addressed in each of the nuclear agreements involving Western technology and Third World power/ego struggles. Reagan, the authors note, made a strong antiproliferation statement after the Israeli bombing; but has since backed off. Not only is there a $3 billion aid-and-aircraft package in the offing for Pakistan, but the administration has resorted to the old circumlocution that a nuclear ""option"" or ""capability"" is one thing; weapons another. An American presence in Pakistan to counter the Russian-Afghanistan threat to the Persian Gulf has taken higher priority. In closing, the authors argue for a united Western front with out-and-out denial of technology and materials to the Third World. Hardly likely, given past history. Besides, even if Western unanimity were obtained, what can prevent the flow of knowledge and development of native talent? Excellent reporting, nonetheless, that forces thinking about the unthinkable.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 1981

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Times Books

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981