Defusing Armageddon: Inside NEST, America's Secret Nuclear Bomb Squad

Jeffrey T. Richelson, Author . Norton $27.95 (318p) ISBN 978-0-393-06515-2

Created in 1974 and comprising skilled scientists and engineers, the Nuclear Emergency Support Team (NEST) deals with threats of nuclear terrorism, tracks down lost or stolen nuclear material and provides technical assistance in disposing of it. In fact, according to Richelson, most threats are hoaxes or extortion schemes, and no genuine nuclear terrorist plot has come near to succeeding. Despite the lack of cliffhangers, Richelson tells plenty of gripping stories of H-bombs dropping out of planes, reactors misbehaving and a nuclear-powered Russian satellite crashing to earth. A National Security Archive senior fellow, Richelson (Spying on the Bomb ) devotes most of the book to a meticulous history of NEST's makeup, training, the persistent squabbling over who controls it (currently the Department of Energy), and many important if undramatic missions such as helping ex-Soviet nations secure their nuclear stockpiles. The book makes a convincing and troubling case that much of the world's nuclear material remains in the hands of institutions and governments incompetent to protect it—a situation that promises to keep NEST busy. 16 pages of illus., 4 maps. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/06/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-393-24406-9
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