The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation

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9780760339046: The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation

This is a political history of nuclear weapons from the discovery of fission in 1938 to the nuclear train wreck that seems to loom in our future.  It is an account of where those weapons came from, how the technology surprisingly and covertly spread, and who is likely to acquire those weapons next and most importantly why.

 

The authors’ examination of post Cold War national and geopolitical issues regarding nuclear proliferation and the effects of Chinese sponsorship of the Pakistani program is eye opening. The reckless “nuclear weapons programs for sale” exporting of technology by Pakistan is truly chilling, as is the on-again off-again North Korean nuclear weapons program.

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From the Inside Flap:

The sense of relief the world felt at the end of the Cold War has been replaced with a different kind of Armageddon nightmare. Instead of an East–West power struggle with the rest of the world on the sidelines, the collective dread this time is over terrorist organizations getting their hands on a nuclear weapon, then using it to effect chaos and collapse on civil society.

Written by two of the world’s foremost nuclear weapons experts, The Nuclear Express addresses how the world got to where it is today. If we are to make the right choices now, we need to understand the history of nuclear weapons and the politics that surround them.

Instead of fertilizer, suppose that Mr. Yousef [first World Trade Center bombing] had been able to place a primitive, five-kiloton nuclear weapon in the back of his truck. Since that vehicle had a one-ton capacity and three hundred cubic feet of drayage space, the very low-tech South African nuclear device developed during the 1980s would have fit nicely. After that February 1993 fertilizer attack, the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories ran some calculations on the theoretical results of a five-kiloton explosion on the streets of lower Manhattan on February 26, 1993, given the wind and weather conditions on that day. The most frightening results of such an attack could have been:

·      Most buildings south of Central Park destroyed, their inhabitants dead

·      Millions of other New Yorkers, once living south of 125th Street, dying of radiation effects

·      Millions more throughout the metropolitan area suffering acute radiation sickness

·      Much of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Hoboken set on fire

Unless we are attentive to history, a terrorist organization will soon be able to assemble and place such an A-bomb within a truck, ship, or container and deliver the same to the heart of any number of U.S. cities. Even “small and inefficient” nuclear weapons could have a devastating effect on American society and its institutions. But is the simple raining of death and destruction on the West the only goal of these people? The jihadists and/or their patrons may have grander ambitions.

—from The Nuclear Express

Thomas C. Reed is a former nuclear weapons designer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, political manager for Ronald Reagan’s gubernatorial contests, Secretary of the Air Force under presidents Ford and Carter, Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Policy, and a successful businessman. Reed wrote an autobiographical account of his experiences titled At the Abyss: An Insider’s History of the Cold War. Reed is a frequent visitor to Russia and Ukraine and is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Southern California. He resides in northern California.

Danny B. Stillman is a Los Alamos physicist with decades of experience in nuclear design, diagnostics, and testing. For thirteen years Stillman directed the Los Alamos Technical Intelligence Division; at the end of that tour he was awarded the Intelligence Community Seal Medallion. Stillman is an engineering physics graduate of University of Washington. He lives in White Rock, New Mexico.

From the Back Cover:

The Nuclear Express

Explore the political history of nuclear weapons, from the discovery of fission in 1938 to the nuclear train wreck that might lie ahead unless nations endeavor to prevent it.

Praise for author Thomas C. Reed,
author of At the Abyss: An Insider’s History of the Cold War

At the Abyss . . . is an astonishing and immensely valuable work that deserves to be studied by anybody who believes he knows his nation’s recent history.”

Los Angeles Times

“One of the key architects of the Cold War endgame has produced a stunning firsthand account.”

—Prof. Kiron Skinner, editor, Reagan in His Own Hand

“In the 1960s Tom Reed was one of Livermore’s most creative designers of thermonuclear devices. During the years that followed, his career as a practicing physicist and as a public servant has been first class.”

—Edward Teller, “Father of the H-bomb”

“This book [At the Abyss] was hard to put down. Stories I had never heard before were equal to Tom Clancy’s best.”

—Adm. Ken Malley, USN (Ret.), former director, Trident II Program Office

*   *   *

 

Praise for author Danny B. Stillman,
former director, Los Alamos Technical Intelligence Division

“[Stillman’s] ability to adapt the latest advances in science to solve unmanageable problems and to analyze foreign technologies made him an invaluable asset to the Intelligence Community.”

—Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense

“Dan Stillman ran the Los Alamos intelligence program for over a decade; his resulting analyses of the Russian, Chinese (and other) nuclear programs were stunningly accurate.”

—Harold Agnew, former director, Los Alamos National Laboratory

“Your [Stillman’s] personal efforts gave us remarkable insights into the structure of the Soviet nuclear weapons program. . . . Please accept my thanks.”

—Lt. Gen. Eugene Tighe, USAF, director, Defense Intelligence Agency

“Danny Stillman was the most reliable source of Cold War intelligence available to me in the area of nuclear weapons technology.”

—Harrison H. Schmitt, former astronaut and U.S. Senator

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