The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor by William Langewiesche - review by Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh

Loose Nukes

The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor


Allen Lane / The Penguin Press 179pp £20

Channel-hoppers may recall the 1994 Hollywood action comedy True Lies, in which Islamist jihadists purloined nuclear warheads stolen in Kazakhstan (a state which has actually decommissioned its nuclear arsenal) and used them to menace America. Capably assisted by wife Jamie Lee Curtis, agent Arnold Schwarzenegger saved the day, using a missile fired from a Harrier jump jet to despatch the lead malefactor to fiery oblivion. 

After soberly reminding readers of how a nuclear bomb works and what it can do, William Langewiesche concludes that this is not something that can be knocked up in a suburban garage. Theoretically, all one needs is a stepladder and two 75-pound bricks of 90 per cent heavily enriched uranium.

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