At a time when nuclear proliferation is further threatened by North Korea and Iran and the American writ weakens all over the globe, we need to understand what, if any, anti-proliferation efforts are feasible. The reviewed book discusses the historical record of proliferation, applicable U.S. intelligence activity, and our protests.
The author, Jeffrey T. Richelson, has written volumes on the CIA, NSA, and American intelligence activities generally. He has a PhD in Political Science and is a Senior Fellow with the National Security Archive.
Spying on the Bomb traces the evolution of the U.S. nuclear intelligence effort from its origins in the early days of World War II to the first years of the twenty-first century. It focuses on the nuclear activities of fifteen nations, examining the work of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in identifying their nuclear programs. It uses memoirs as well as information obtained through the exercise of the Freedom of Information Act. Surprising data is provided that was originally obtained by reconnaissance overflights and orbiting satellites, as well as by humint. Analyses and arguments that resulted in successive U.S. administration are incorporated.
The 700-page book contains new information, photographs, maps, reference notes, a good index, and is well written, although dense. Most of us have lived through the alarms and tensions recounted here, so lifting the intelligence veil a bit should be rewarding. As an atomic, intelligence, and foreign affairs junkie, I found it fascinating.
The first chapter starts with a summary of German nuclear activity in the 1930s. Otto Hahn, Lisa Meitner, and Fritz Strassman discovered uranium fission and posited chain reactions. In August of 1939 Einstein wrote FDR, U.S. research followed, and, on December 6, 1941, the Manhattan Project was formed. However, back in Germany, Heisenberg that nation’s leading physicist believed that “scientific problems were solved, but technical prerequisites for production would take years.”
In September of 1943, although the British had concluded a German bomb wasn’t a serious threat, General Marshall asked General Groves, commander of the Manhattan Project, to determine what the Germans were doing. Groves appointed an Intelligence section headed by a Major R.R. Furman, and coordinated with Donovan, the head of the OSS.
German technical literature, Norwegian and Swedish scientists, and refugees were the main sources for Major Furman, although scientists cobbled together an air sampling device for him that would detect xenon particles created by plutonium. The Air Force flew it over Germany in the fall of 1944, with no positive result. Throughout this period American scientists were most concerned about the German threat, giving suggestions to Groves and Furman.
Donovan recruited a forty-year-old, multilingual, ex-baseball player by the name of Moe Berg and gave him to Furman. Berg commuted back and forth to Europe, eventually following allied armies into Italy to locate known Italian physicists. In December of 1944, he went to Zurich where Werner Heisenberg was scheduled to speak. The American was equipped with a gun and instructions to kill the scientist if he, Berg, concluded that a German program might endanger our troops. Berg even had dinner with the physicist, who told him the war was lost.
Allied nuclear scientists deployed. The contingent, eventually amounting to one hundred personnel, followed Berg’s tracks into Italy, then invaded France, sometimes ahead of combat troops. They picked up Joliot-Curie and other French physicists and located stored uranium and heavy water. They pressed on to Germany where they repeated their exploits, even capturing Heisenberg. The team transferred their ten leading German scientists to an English country house where they eavesdropped on discussions. The allies concluded that Heisenberg had not obstructed a German program (as intimated in the later famous play Copenhagen). Instead, the German failure was due to the lack of imagination and will that FDR and his people showed.
The sterile American counter-intelligence effort during the war contrasted with the energetic and creative effort spent spying on German efforts. The FBI focused on the left-ish Oppenheimer while letting Fuchs, Greenglass, Rosenberg, and Colonel Abel steal us blind. That is covered in the second chapter, which concerns our interest in the Soviet Union's activities from 1945-1953.
Although the author can tell us of Russian activities during this period—both about espionage in the U.S. as well as at home—this is fifty years later. American authorities at that time had no high level spy in the Kremlin. Nor did we have adequate eavesdropping (ferret), or visual (optical) spy satellites. Thus we set up a system to recover and analyze by-products of an atomic explosion. Aircraft were modified for the Trinity test and subsequently deployed around the periphery of the Soviet Union. Drones and balloons were also used. These vehicles scooped up airborne radioactive flotsam and factory effluents. Rainfall was collected. We also deployed microbarographs, seismographs, and sonic detectors.
In late August of 1949, the Soviets imploded a 20-kiloton Nagasaki-like plutonium bomb. Based on information gained by that long distance detection system, President Truman announced the Soviet success on September 23. Their test occurred several years ahead of American expectations.
Soviet mass production began in 1951. Additional bomb tests followed that same year. The CIA estimated that the Soviets would possess 70-135 fission bombs by 1953. Therefore, in 1951, Truman authorized the development of a bomb whereby two isotopes of hydrogen, either deuterium or tritium, would be fused to form a nucleus of helium and a neutron, plus a terrific release of energy. Yields in the megatonnage were expected. It was called a hydrogen bomb, or a thermonuclear device, because of its method of fusing hydrogen nuclei after subjecting them to the very high temperatures caused by a fission trigger.
In 1952, Truman created the National Security Agency to spearhead communications intelligence. That same year, the American H-bomb, Mike, incinerated the Pacific island of Elugelab, substituting for it a crater about two hundred feet deep and a mile and a half wide. The East German physicist and spy, Fuchs, helped the parallel Soviet Hydrogen bomb effort, which resulted in a successful shot on August 12, 1953, although much smaller than the American.
The third chapter carries the Soviet program and our spying into it from 1954 to 1961. In the early years of that period, the U.S. improved and elaborated on their long distance data collection and technical analyses. Intelligence was also recovered from defectors and travelers. The author summarizes several reports and analyses intelligence strengths and weaknesses.
Both sides detonated larger and larger thermonuclear devices and the U.S. detection system proliferated. In 1956, the first U-2 took off from Germany and headed over Russia. Four overflights followed within a week. Eisenhower decreed a pause due to Soviet protests. In the summer of 1957 the overflights restarted and added substantially to our knowledge of the Soviet's nuclear facilities. Once again the author demonstrates he had access to detailed DOD and CIA reports.
In 1958, Eisenhower assigned the CIA responsibility for developing a photographic reconnaissance satellite. On August 18 and 19, 1960, a camera-equipped Corona satellite was successfully placed in orbit, its path at times only 116 miles above the land. It photographed targets in the Soviet Union and returned its images back to earth via a film capsule that was ejected from the satellite and recovered in the air in the vicinity of Hawaii. In the same year, a U-2 piloted by Gary Powers was shot down. One could say satellite technology replaced airborne reconnaissance at that moment as a result of a fortuitous American scheduling of technology development.
Many Soviet tests were performed then, recorded, and analyzed by the U.S.. On October of 1961, the Soviets detonated the largest ever, a 50-plus megaton device that made "the whole earth's atmosphere vibrate for days after," as reported by an American scientific panel. And by then, Great Britain and France had joined the atomic club and intelligence predicted that China would soon follow.
Rather than produce a strictly chronological account of worldwide nuclear activities and the simultaneous U.S. espionage related activities, the author, at the beginning, presents national chapters. Thus, the second Soviet chapter is followed by a Chinese chapter four that incorporates actions from January 1955, when Mao had a conference with his physicists, to 1971 when President Nixon canceled the U-2 overflights of China in order to improve relations.
You will remember that President Eisenhower threatened to employ nuclear weapons in Korea if an armistice couldn't be worked out. Later, we signed a defense treaty with Taiwan, followed by American nuclear deployments in that nation. Then, a controversy arose over the Chinese Nationalist-held Quemoy and Matsu islands. As a result of the Sino-American hostility, Mao decided on a nuclear weapons program.
Uranium was found and mines built. Construction of plants to produce uranium hexafloride and lithium-6 deuteride began in 1958. That last development meant that the Chinese already looked past the atomic bomb to the hydrogen variety. A plutonium production reactor and supporting facilities, then a gaseous diffusion plant came next. All were located in the deep interior to make it difficult for American reconnaissance planes. A test site was chosen in the Xinjiang region of Central Asia. Satellite cities were constructed. All in the late Fifties.
However, in 1959 the Sino-Soviet alliance fell apart. One casualty was the atomic assistance pacts. By 1960, the Soviets had not delivered a single key component for the plutonium production reactor, much less a "sample" bomb. Mao diverted the resources necessary to continue. The author identifies the Chinese physicists and their foreign education.
The U.S. flew U2 aircraft over China and, in the early 1960s, Corona satellites with continually improving cameras. The U.S. deployed a Gambit satellite, a "close look" device with a high resolution camera.
Kennedy and his national security team discussed means of stopping the Chinese. A test ban treaty was chosen, but Khrushchev wasn't interested, neither were the French. The nationalist Chinese, however, joined in studying a conventional military attack using Taiwanese commandos and American air assets. However, Kennedy was afraid of another Bay of Pigs fiasco, which happened at that time, and decided not to attack.
Instead, India, because of border disputes, secretly agreed to a U-2 base from which we overflew Lop Nur, the Chinese test site. As quid pro quo, we provided data to the Indians on Chinese military dispositions.
Because of satellite-reported Lop Nur activity, by mid September of 1964, the Administration thought a test imminent. McCone, McNamara, Rusk, and McGeorge Bundy decided again against unilateral U.S. military action. They unsuccessfully tested the idea of joint action with the Soviets, warned the world of an imminent Chinese test, and then waited for what the intelligence services were convinced would be a plutonium fission explosion.
On October 16, 1964, the Chinese detonated an atomic bomb with a yield of 20 kilotons. U.S. electromagnetic pulse and acoustic stations around the world picked up signals. Debris samples were taken that surprised the AEC and the CIA into the realization that the Chinese bomb was an implosion design using uranium 235 rather than plutonium. Lyndon Johnson consoled himself that the time required for missile development would push off to some later President a Chinese threat to the American homeland. In May of 1965, however, a Chinese bomber dropped a 40 kiloton bomb on a distant target.
U.S. satellites proliferated throughout 1966 as China conducted its third, fourth, and fifth nuclear tests, including one over 200 kilotons that used lithium-6 deuteride to obtain a boost in the fission bomb’s yield. In October of that year the People's Liberation Army fired a DF-2 ballistic missile armed with a 20-30 kt warhead about 500 miles, hitting the target in Lop Nur. Further tests of thermonuclear devices followed, while in May of 1967, a 3 megaton bomb detonated.
Our administration supplemented dangerous U2 missions with Tabasco ground sensors dropped in Lop Nur, and Corona, Gambit, and Vela satellites, all with either continually improving survey or "close look" cameras or radiological sensors. After the cancellation of U2 flights in 1971, a bourgeoning inventory of intelligence collection systems provided data on China's active nuclear program.
Chapter five covers first the French and then the Indian efforts. France, of course had a stellar scientific cadre. Working before the war. Joliot-Curie and his colleagues had identified two means of producing an unrestrained chain reaction—with U235, and with natural uranium mixed with heavy water. At that time, the government acquired 880 pounds of uranium metal from the United States and Norway's entire stock of heavy water.
After the war, de Gaulle restarted the effort. Uranium prospecting commenced and a pile constructed, from which samples of plutonium were gathered. He replaced Joliot-Curie, a communist. A five year plan called for two power plants and a plutonium extraction facility, with the plutonium targeted for harmless “breeder” reactors. The government maintained their efforts only were aimed at civilian power. After the Dien Bien Phu debacle in Viet Nam, however, the French military decided "that strategic dependence on the U.S. might prove worse than futile." They would develop weapons.
In 1956, a plutonium production reactor went critical and preparations began for a test. On February 13, 1960, France detonated a 60 kiloton plutonium device in the Sahara despite a U.S. and Soviet testing moratorium. De Gaulle then switched to underground tests in Algeria. Three additional tests followed, one prematurely to avoid the device falling into military hands opposed to de Gaulle's Algerian policy.
With Algeria going independent, the tests switched to French Polynesia. France sought to develop operational weapons for its Mirage IV bomber. With clandestine British help, French designers were able to assure France's first thermonuclear test on August 24, 1968, a 2.6 megaton blast. It contaminated the atoll terribly.
Throughout this period, the CIA operated a sensor station in Libya, and conducted space and aerial overflights of both French production sites and test centers. In 1964, it utilized two U2 launches from an aircraft carrier. Human sources also contributed. Predictions proved accurate.
In his independence, De Gaulle had, in 1951, also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with India. That country had western trained physicists and formed an Atomic Energy Commission whose alleged purpose was nuclear energy. It gained Canadian assistance in building natural uranium-fueled reactors, moderated by heavy water, that could produce power and plutonium. Canada failed to place restrictions on the use of the plutonium.
The Indians next built a plutonium extraction plant. Prime Minister Nehru repeatedly promised to use their capability "for peaceful purposes only." A short war with China in 1962, concluded by an Indian defeat, was followed by the first Chinese test. Then, in May of 1964, Nehru died and soon the first spent fuel went into the reprocessing plant.
Through the late Fifties and early Sixties, under the guise of a Project Plowshare-like program, Indian scientists worked on the design of a bomb. They advertised plans for only atomic power stations employing fast-breeder reactors using plutonium cores. Thus, whatever intentions were, their public posture was pure. However, in 1972, when the scientists were ready, Indira Gandhi authorized the construction of a device. A 350 foot shaft was dug in Rajasthan and, in May, 1974, the Indians imploded a 10-15 kiloton plutonium device with no venting into the atmosphere. The Indian government announced the success and the world was surprised.
The CIA, NSA, and other intelligence organizations had monitored Indian nuclear activities for decades. They relied on open sources, diplomatic reporting, communications intelligence, and satellite photography. The analysts believed that India could produce a weapon in short notice, but believed in the advertised "no-bomb" policy. While thousands were involved in India's nuclear program, only fifty to seventy-five scientists were actually part of the effort to design and build an explosive device. They did not talk.
For the U.S. intelligence community, it was another lesson that "capabilities" intelligence must be matched with access to "intentions."
A chapter on "Pariahs" follows that on France and India. The Israel success, and the South African, and Taiwanese abandonments are included, each nation considering themselves under siege by neighboring states.
Israel started its nuclear program in 1952 with Ben Gurion deciding in 1955 on a further goal of atomic weapons. He started small with the purchase of a reactor from the U.S. Shortly afterwards, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, and the British, French, and Israelis attacked. Eisenhower condemned them and the Soviets threatened missile attacks. After the political humiliation of withdrawal, the French agreed to provide Israel with a plutonium production reactor and the technology to extract the bomb material from spent reactor fuel. Norway provided heavy water for the pile, while a French company constructed the reprocessing plant, underground in the Negev desert, near the town of Dimona, and below the reactor construction site.
In fear of an Arab economic response, De Gaulle publicly terminated the partnership in 1960, with Israel claiming only peaceful intent. But construction continued and a scientist's memoir attests to a successful scientific test of probably the implosion design in 1966. Subsequently, a uranium shipment to Italy for European power reactors was hijacked on the high seas.
U.S. intelligence services followed Israel's activities for years, with U2 overflights starting in 1956. At that time, they had reported huge gashes in the desert near Dimona and heavy concrete foundations. The Israelis ultimately agreed to a limited visit by two American scientists who testified to the peaceful nature of the Dimona establishment. Despite this, the CIA maintained its adverse judgment, but was unsuccessful in inserting agents.
After Kennedy died, the Israelis permitted the inspection of the reactor but the existence even of the subterranean reprocessing plant was denied. Indirect evidence, however, convinced the U.S. by 1970 that Israel either possessed or could quickly assemble an atomic bomb. By 1975, the CIA estimated that country had between ten and twenty available for use.
Then in late 1979, an old Vela research satellite, orbiting over the southern tip of Africa and the Antarctica recorded the double flash of energy that had always been associated with a nuclear detonation. By that time, South Africa and Israel were cooperating on their mutual programs. Had the first assisted the second in a two to four kiloton test? Rainwater and air sampling produced no confirmation and the author doesn't seem to know the truth of this speculation.
Then, in 1986, a laid-off Dimona worker, Mordechai Vanunu, a Palestinian sympathizer, traveled abroad, ultimately to visit the London Sunday Times, in Britain. He brought plans and photos of the interior of the six-level Dimona facility. His pictures included one of a full scale model of a hydrogen bomb. The article appeared on October 5, 1986. As a result of his revelations, experts estimated that Israel had seven to ten times its previously estimated nuclear weapon strength. It was also clear that Israel had the ability to produce lithium-6 for a thermonuclear device.
Five days before the story appeared, Vanunu was lured to Rome by a female member of the Mossad and ended back in an Israel jail.
Fear also motivated South Africa and Taiwan into commencing nuclear programs.
In the Fifties, a South African official said "We should have the bomb to prevent aggression from loud mouth Afro-Asiatic states." At the time, it had an American-supported research reactor that produced plutonium and also began to experiment with enriching its plentiful uranium. In the latter process, it developed its own centrifuge version. By May of 1979, it had developed a gun-type U235-fueled device and searched for a test site. U.S. intelligence followed the program only indirectly. Overflights convinced the U.S. of pending tests, however, and strong protests were leveled. South Africa shelved its plans.
For once, international opprobrium and American protests worked.
In 1991, after a regime change in South Africa, it agreed to become a signatory to the nonproliferation treaty and to open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the IAEA. South Africa dismantled seven bombs.
Taiwan similarly was frightened, especially after China's 1964 test. The country went forward on its own, basing its efforts on the plutonium cycle and international procurements. South Africa provided uranium, Canada produced a heavy water reactor, the U.S heavy water--plus light water reactors—while the U.S., France, and Germany shipped equipment for a reprocessing plant and other facilities.
By 1973, the State Department attempted to block some of these procurements. In 1976, IAEA inspectors found missing ten fuel rods containing five hundred grams of plutonium. A CIA agent stole revealing documents. Finally, Under U.S. pressure, the Taiwanese shut down the plutonium producing reactor and the reprocessing plant and, further, forwarded 863 grams of plutonium to the U.S.
American leverage worked.
Other states labored to possess weapons of mass destruction. By 1980, Libya, an absolute dictatorship, Pakistan, run by its military, Iraq, Iran and North Korea, also dictatorships, all showed nuclear ambitions. All five were motivated by, if not fear, then the rivalry of states perceived as enemies. All relied on foreign help. Only the Pakistan, Iranian, and North Korean efforts continue. The author goes into detail about what has happened with each program.
I’ll start with Libya. Tidbits that might whet your appetite include an attempt to purchase a bomb from China, then its deals with France, Argentina, the Soviet Union, and Pakistan. India refused to help, costing it oil. Finally came Clintonian pressure, including the seizure of North Korea equipment on the high seas, lack of technical progress, negotiation with Bush, and finally abandonment of the effort.
Now, Pakistan. It’s devastating defeat in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, which resulted in detaching Bangladesh, led to its nuclear program. By the first Indian test in 1974, it already had several reactors, provided by Canada. In 1976, Kissinger tried unsuccessfully to prevent the execution of a French contract for a plutonium reprocessing plant. Nevertheless, the U.S. was able to put numerous difficulties in the plutonium road.
At the same time, Pakistan also pursued U235 enrichment. The key figure was Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. He stole centrifuge designs from URENCO, a company established in 1970 to guarantee Britain, West Germany, and the Netherlands a supply of enriched uranium to fuel their reactors. Then, Pakistan smuggled a uranium hexafluoride feedstock plant from West Germany and through the 1980s procured maraging steel for centrifuges, reprocessing plant and electronic equipment, and a metal finishing plant, all from abroad.
By the fall of 1980, the CIA's spies, the NSA eavesdroppers, and the National Reconnaissance Office's imagery satellites convinced American authorities that preparations for a Pakistan test were underway—although the community thought it would be of a plutonium device. But the Pakistanis didn't proceed, probably in order to maintain the Congressionally required certificate of non-proliferation that foreign aid required.
Throughout the Eighties, Pakistan government denied everything and the U.S. desisted from applying economic pressure in order to maintain Pakistan help in the Afghanistan insurrection.
Then, in 1987, Pakistan purchased a production facility for yield-enhancing tritium from West Germany. Chinese scientists aided the Pakistanis in the program, whatever it was. In 1988, the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and in 1990, the intelligence community informed the first President Bush that Pakistan "possessed" a nuclear device. Thereafter, Bush refused to certify Pakistan's non-nuclear status. And, on May 28, 1996, Pakistan detonated five nuclear weapons. Thermonuclear and missile-borne tests followed.
Now, on to Iraq. Saddam Hussein successfully hid much of his nuclear program before the 1991 war and afterwards tried to hide the remains of bombing and the victors’ inspections with the goal of resuscitation. By 1998, however, the program had pretty much fallen apart. The author goes into the American Niger yellowcake and aluminum tube fiascos as well as our post-Gulf War II frantic search for weapons of mass destruction.
Now, Iran. In early 2003, an Iranian resistance group pinpointed a large facility for uranium enrichment, at Natanz, south of Tehran. That installation has bewilderingly focused U.S. fury, while Iran also builds a heavy water production plant and a 40-megawatt reactor nearby at Arak, sufficient to annually produce enough plutonium for a bomb, starting in 2009. Another reactor, at Bushehr, is being built for Iran by the Russians, but American intelligence cooperation led to a Russian requirement that all used fuel rods be returned to Russia for reprocessing. Similar cooperation secured Chinese refusal to sell key equipment and chemicals.
The author notes other Iranian facilities suspected to be part of a nuclear weapons program and drone and satellite overflights. He summarizes IAEA inspections and reports.
In November of 2003, the CIA had a “walk-in” who brought in drawings of nuclear warheads and modifications to Iranian ballistic missiles that would allow them to carry a nuclear warhead.
Despite Arak and IAEA estimates, the recent national intelligence estimate states that 2015 is the most likely date for Iran to have enough fissile material for a bomb. This may be the CIA’s over cautious reaction to its overestimate of Iraq’s nuclear efforts in 2003.
Richelson also provides an historical overview of North Korea’s nuclear program, originally and primarily oriented around plutonium generation, recovery, and reprocessing. He relates IAEA’s difficulties with the lying and dissimulation so typical of those pursuing nuclear weapons programs. That behavior is seen as necessary in order to secure foreign help.
In 1994 the Clinton administration talked not only of sanctions but military action. Clinton and his advisers pondered whether their only option was an air strike on the North Korea nuclear center.
However, the Chinese applied pressure and Kim Il Sung conceded negotiations. The “agreed framework” of October 21, 1994 resulted. The North agreed to “freeze its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities” and store eight thousand expended fuel rods. In return the North would receive two light water reactors and oil to bridge the period while energy was lost by the “freezing.” When the new reactors were completed, Pyongyang would dismantle the old ones.
By the time that agreement had been signed, North Korea had a new ruler. He would not acknowledge the fact that S. Korea would make the new reactors provided for in the agreement, but the State Department arranged a cover story. With CIA-provided sensors, Russia monitored whether plutonium reprocessing was proceeding, contrary to the agreement. Then, in 1997, a high level defector reported that not only did North Korea possess nuclear weapons but it planned an underground test. No test materialized, but satellite observation noted many suspicious activities. These were on top of a ballistic missile program, criminal enterprises, and failure to permit full inspections.
With the younger Bush’s administration came realization that uranium enrichment was also a problem. It was harder to detect than plutonium reprocessing. A nuclear relationship with Pakistan on centrifuges, going back to 1997 was suspected. By 2002 the U.S. had “clear evidence” of enrichment, according to the author. In January 2003 the North withdrew from the nonproliferation treaty. Then, the Koreans sent the depleted fuel rods to a reprocessing facility.
North Korea claims to have reprocessed the eight thousand fuel rods—enough plutonium for five or six weapons. By overflights and satellites, the U.S. detected Krypton-85—evidence of plutonium reprocessing--and implosion explosion tests.
In mid-September 2005 North Korea agreed to give up “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” and submit to international inspections in exchange for a variety of benefits. But much of the detail had to be worked out. None of it has. Instead, the Bush administration has looked to Chinese pressure to force North Korean abandonment of their nuclear weapons program.
The recent North Korean test in which it achieved only a half a kiloton detonation was a fizzle, probably. Either the plutonium isotope was impure or the implosion detonation uncoordinated. Once again, the Chinese have exerted pressure that deferred another test—for a time. Will Japanese, Taiwanese, and South Korean programs follow?
As noted throughout this review, proliferation has been occasioned by either pride, as in the case of Britain and France, or by fear and rivalry, as in the case of India of China, Pakistan of India, Israel of Muslim invasions, and Muslim nations to counter Israel. At the present time, it appears that, in the cases of Iran and North Korea, proliferation is significantly driven by fear of the U.S.
Dissuasion from testing has succeeded only when America has possessed powerful leverage, usually economic—as in the cases of Taiwan, South Africa, and, for a time, Pakistan. And only emplaced human agents have reliably warned the U.S. The roughly $30 B we spend each year on intelligence have produced uncertainty about intentions.
Spying on the Bomb is a good book, although dense, as I mentioned at the beginning. You might want to take it in measured draughts.