Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb: A Story of Defiance, Deterrence and Deviance

This book provides a comprehensive account of the mysterious story of Pakistan's attempt to develop nuclear weapons in the face of severe odds. Hassan Abbas profiles the politicians and scientists involved, and the role of China and Saudi Arabia in supporting Pakistan's nuclear infrastructure.

Abbas also unravels the motivations behind the Pakistani nuclear physicist Dr A.Q. Khan's involvement in nuclear proliferation in Iran, Libya and North Korea, drawing on extensive interviews. He argues that the origins and evolution of the Khan network were tied to the domestic and international
political motivations underlying Pakistan's nuclear weapons project, and that project's organization, oversight and management. The ties between the making of the Pakistani bomb and the proliferation that then ensued have not yet been fully illuminated or understood, and this book's disclosures have
important lessons. The Khan proliferation breach remains of vital importance for understanding how to stop such transfers of sensitive technology in future.

Finally, the book examines the prospects for nuclear safety in Pakistan, considering both Pakistan's nuclear control infrastructure and the threat posed by the Taliban and other extremist groups to the country's nuclear assets.

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About the Book

“Drawing on the recollections of former decision-makers, Hassan Abbas offers the most complete account yet of how [Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme] worked, and what it meant: a source of national pride, and a source of cash.”– London Review of Books

“This is the most comprehensive study to date of why and how Pakistan got the bomb and proliferated. Beyond state actors–including China, Iran, North Korea and Libya–Abbas scrutinizes the role of individuals, including A. Q. Khan, in the making of Pakistan’s nuclear program and its
‘dissemination’.”– Christophe Jaffrelot, Visiting Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at the King’s India Institute and author of The Pakistan Paradox

“An important, realistic book that addresses many issues, and one major international problem in particular: Pakistan’s proliferation of nuclear technology. Focusing on both the activities of the state as well as A. Q. Khan, this research deserves wide scholarly and policy attention.”–Thomas H.
Johnson, Professor and Director of the Naval Postgraduate School’s Program for Culture and Conflict Studies, and author of Taliban Narratives

“Hassan Abbas presents one of the best defenses of Pakistan’s military as he lays out details of Dr A. Q. Khan’s personal network, selling nuclear knowledge and technology to Iran and North Korea. Whets the reader’s appetite for more investigation into nuclear proliferation by Pakistan.” -Ayesha
Siddiqa, Research Associate, SOAS South Asia Institute

“Abbas’ diligent scrutiny of public sources and his intimate knowledge of Pakistani politics make this the most authoritative study yet written of Khan’s complicated story.”–Foreign Affairs

“This judicious study of Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, and their proliferation to Iran and North Korea . . . rigorously assesses the motives and actions of the relevant state actors as well as Khan and his largely European network of proliferators.”–Choice

“As good a general analysis as you can get of Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions, its nuclear weapons programme and the prevailing security mindsets and world view of its military, bureaucratic, scientific and political elites.”– Open Magazine

“An important contribution to history . . . measured and objective.” Asian Affairs

“A masterly history of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Abundant with new historical evidence and theoretically nuanced (challenging traditional dogmas), Abbas has produced what may well be a definitive account of Islamabad and the bomb.”– Amitabh Mattoo, Professor in Disarmament Studies,
Jawaharlal Nehru University

“Abbas pulls back the veil on a largely un-known, illicit trade … [his] intense historical analysis … offers much needed clarity to a frightening and convoluted situation.” — NYU’s Journal of International Law and Politics

Genres: Military History, National & International Security, Nuclear Weapons & Warfare History
Tag: Recommended Books
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Year: March 1, 2018
ASIN: 0190901578
ISBN: 0190901578
This is simply the best work on Pakistan's nuclear program and it offers intricate details of the country's nuclear entanglements with Iran, Libya and North Korea. It is nuanced, very well researched and resourced and provides a balanced and fair assessment on the subject. The author's credentials are also very strong and well established greatly adding to the value of this work. Highly recommended for students of South Asian history as well as those interested in issues related to nuclear proliferation.
Brilliant. This book brings all the factors since 1947 which leads to the nuclear program of Pakistani. This book runs as a thriller how scientists, civil servants, politicians played crucial role both in Pakistan and other in countries. Scientists works as spies to keep the program secret.
– Kashif Umair
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About the Author
Dr. Hassan Abbas

Dr. Hassan Abbas is Professor of International Security Studies & Chair of the Department of Regional and Analytical Studies at the National Defense University in Washington DC. He is also a senior advisor and Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society in New York working on the U.S. relations with South and Central Asia. Dr. Abbas held the Distinguished Quaid-i-Azam Chair at the South Asia Institute at Columbia University from 2009-11. Previous to that he was a Senior Advisor at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, after having been a Research Fellow at the Belfer Center from 2005 to 2009. He is also a non-resident Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), Michigan, and an Associate of the Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU), University of Bradford, in the United Kingdom. He received his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and an LL.M. in International Law from Nottingham University, United Kingdom, where he was a Britannia Chevening Scholar (1999). Dr. Abbas also remained a fellow at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School (2002-2003) and as a visiting scholar at the Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation (2003-2004).

His research interests are politics and security issues in South West Asia; and relations between Muslims and the West. His recent publication include 'Stabilizing Pakistan Through Police Reforms' and 'Pakistan 2020: A Vision for Building a Better Future' both available at His book, Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror (M.E. Sharpe) has been on bestseller lists in India and Pakistan and was widely reviewed internationally, including by the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Far Eastern Economic Review, The Hindu, and Dawn. He has also appeared as an analyst on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, Al-Jazeera, and PBS, and as a political commentator on VOA and BBC. He runs WATANDOST, which is a blog on Pakistan and its neighbors' related affairs.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."