When President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union address in 2002, he pinpointed three nuclear hot spots as threats to the free world: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. What he failed to disclose was America’s role in facilitating the spread of nuclear weapons to these “axis of evil” powers and the critical part played by a key U.S. ally: the Pakistan military government and its front man, the nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan.
In a masterful investigation, Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark reveal how 30 years of parochial and sometimes criminal policy enabled the scandal to evolve. Although seen as a crucial buffer state and ally – first against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, now in the “war on terror” – Pakistan instead betrayed the West, building a vast nuclear arsenal with U.S. aid money and selling the technology to countries hostile to the West, while giving shelter to the resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Deception is the most complete account of Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear network as it has extended from Islamabad around the world, and chronicles how Khan’s operation, and his ultimate fall from grace, are part of a much larger deceit. As Levy and Scott-Clark relate, every American administration from Jimmy Carter’s to George W. Bush’s has condoned Pakistan’s nuclear activity – rewriting and destroying evidence provided by U.S. and Western intelligence agencies; lying to Congress and the American people about Pakistan’s intentions and capability so that U.S. aid to Pakistan, prohibited to countries illicitly holding nuclear weapons, could be maintained; secretly supplying components and equipment to Pakistan in the full knowledge that they could be used in an illicit nuclear program; with the White House even tipping off the Pakistani government about criminal probes into its nuclear program by U.S. agencies. Deception puts our current stand-offs with Iran and North Korea, and the quagmire in Iraq, in a startling new perspective, revealing that the lies about WMD in Iraq could only succeed if the truth about Pakistan was suppressed, papering over the root cause of the nuclear crises that are upon us. And it charts how Pakistan has gone from being an ally to a rogue nation at the epicenter of world instability, and how by giving the Pakistan military succor, the United States has helped usher in a new age of nuclear terror.
Based on hundreds of interviews over the past decade in the United States, Pakistan, India, Israel, Europe, and Southeast Asia, Deception is a masterwork of reportage and dramatic storytelling by two of the word’s most resourceful investigative journalists. Urgently important, it should stimulate debate and command a reexamination of our national priorities.
This rich and detailed book reads like a thriller. The story of how AQ Khan set up the Pakistani nuclear programme – and thereby changed history – is a reminder that the price of our security is endless vigilance
ROBERT COOPER Director General for External Relations and Politico-Military Affairs at the Council of the European Union
An un-putdownable and explosive account of our most recent times that reveals how while our leaders in the West claimed to be securing our future they were ultimately responsible for one of the greatest deceptions of the age.
SIMON REEVE Author of the New York Times best-seller The New Jackals – Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism.