A stumper for your next quiz night: Name all of the countries that have exploded atomic weapons in Xinjiang.
The answer: China and... Pakistan?
Crazy stuff in today's New York Times nuclear book review smorgasbord. The book in question is "The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation" due out in January.
The authors drop more than one bombshell recovered from the dustbin of atomic history:
Secret cooperation extended to the secluded sites where nations tested their handiwork in thundering blasts. The book says, for instance, that China opened its sprawling desert test site to Pakistan, letting its client test a first bomb there on May 26, 1990.
That alone rewrites atomic history. It casts new light on the reign of Benazir Bhutto as prime minister of Pakistan and helps explain how the country was able to respond so quickly in May 1998 when India conducted five nuclear tests.
“It took only two weeks and three days for the Pakistanis to field and fire a nuclear device of their own,” the book notes.
In another disclosure, the book says China “secretly extended the hospitality of the Lop Nur nuclear test site to the French.”France!? Say it ain't so, Xiaoping. Well, it couldn't be any worse than this:
The book, in a main disclosure, discusses how China in 1982 made a policy decision to flood the developing world with atomic know-how. Its identified clients include Algeria, Pakistan and North Korea.
Alarmingly, the authors say one of China’s bombs was created as an “export design” that nearly “anybody could build.” The blueprint for the simple plan has traveled from Pakistan to Libya and, the authors say, Iran.But why would China do something so stupid? Well, old habits are hard to kick. Nikita Khrushchev said in his memoirs that Mao's attitude towards the nuclear holocaust of World War III was, "Hey, even if China loses 300 million people we'll still have plenty left over."
Why did Beijing spread its atomic knowledge so freely? The authors speculate that it either wanted to strengthen the enemies of China’s enemies (for instance, Pakistan as a counterweight to India) or, more chillingly, to encourage nuclear wars or terror in foreign lands from which Beijing would emerge as the “last man standing.”Sounds like the kind of plan that will definitely work out in the long run.
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