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ACA’s journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Books of Note
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Inside Nuclear South Asia

Scott D. Sagan, ed., StanfordUniversity Press, 2009, 281 pp.

Scott D. Sagan of StanfordUniversity’s Center for International Security and Cooperation has compiled the work of a number of South Asia experts who discuss nuclear proliferation in the region and offer alternatives to the common explanations for its occurrence. The first part of the book covers the causes of South Asian nuclear proliferation. The authors in this section focus particularly on three explanations for why India and Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons: domestic politics, issues of prestige and grievance, and external threats. For instance, Itty Abraham argues that different actors within India attached varied meanings to the nuclear program and that the nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998 were intended in large part to demonstrate the greatness and accomplishment of India as an independent nation. The second section focuses on the implications of the current regional nuclear order and offers reasons for pessimism about its long-term stability.


 

Preventing Catastrophe: The Use and Misuse of Intelligence in Efforts to Halt the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Thomas Graham Jr. and Keith A. Hansen, StanfordUniversity Press, 2009, 300 pp.

Thomas Graham Jr., former acting director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and veteran arms control verification expert Keith A. Hansen have written an authoritative and comprehensive survey of the way intelligence has been and can be used to support global nonproliferation objectives. The book has much to recommend it as a reference work or textbook for scholars and students, including concise summaries of historical events and key documents. The authors’ nonjudgmental prose and obvious sympathy for the challenges confronting the producers of intelligence may leave some readers hungry for tougher critiques of the intelligence community for its record during the debacle over Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and for its use of controversial counterterrorism methods. Yet, exposure to the careful conclusions of experts such as Graham and Hansen in the context of their balanced presentation of recent history carries its own rewards.


 

Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security

Gregory D. Koblentz, CornellUniversity Press, 2009, 255 pp.

In Living Weapons, Gregory D. Koblentz thoroughly addresses the wide range of challenges that biological weapons pose to countries in the 21st century. He outlines the difficulties the international community faces in obtaining intelligence about biological weapons, verifying whether state or nonstate actors are developing biological weapons, holding state and nonstate actors accountable for biological weapons programs, and preventing the rise of biological terrorism. Koblentz explores these issues by weaving together historical information on Iraqi, Russian, South African, and Soviet biological weapons programs with analysis of the scientific and security challenges biological weapons present in the 21st century. Rather than developing any one solution in depth, he recommends several possible ways for countries to decrease, unilaterally and multilaterally, the threat posed by biological weapons.

 

Posted: November 5, 2009