Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea

Jeffrey T. Richelson, Author . Norton $34.95 (702p) ISBN 978-0-393-05383-8

Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive and author of several books on American intelligence including The Wizards of Langley , has written an authoritative and definitive account of U.S. nuclear espionage from the earliest days of atomic research in WWII to the present. Drawing on prodigious research—including newly declassified material—Richelson details the efforts of the U.S. intelligence community to track the nuclear activities of other states. The results of all this spy craft were at best uneven. With abundant technology—aerial reconnaissance, signals intercepts, seismic detection—but few human intelligence resources (HUMINT), the U.S. was consistently surprised by nuclear events in the Soviet Union, China, India and elsewhere. And we're still getting it wrong. Richelson analyzes how American intelligence first underestimated Iraq's nuclear program in the 1980s and then overestimated it in 2003. It's instructive that after 1998, the U.S. did not have "a single HUMINT source" in Iraq. Considering the intelligence community's "mixed record" and the continuing nuclear ambitions of rogue states like North Korea and Iran, Richelson concludes chillingly, "Trouble Is Waiting to Happen." More than a comprehensive and often compelling history of nuclear espionage, this is an important contribution to the debate regarding American intelligence that began on 9/11. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/05/2005
Release date: 03/01/2006
Paperback - 734 pages - 978-0-393-32982-7
Open Ebook - 768 pages - 978-0-393-24402-1
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