Norman Dombey

Norman Dombey is an emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at Sussex. He has written many pieces about nuclear weapons for the LRB, arguing late in 2002, for example, that Iraq did not have the capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction.

Ferdinand Mount writes that ‘the PM is surrounded by toadies he appointed, and alternative sources of criticism are silenced or sidelined,’ giving as an example the ‘sceptical advice’ on weapons of mass destruction ‘proffered by Dr Brian Jones, head of the nuclear, biological, chemical, technical intelligence branch of the Defence Intelligence Staff’ before the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Iraq’s...
From The Blog
22 February 2021

Britain’s ‘independent nuclear deterrent’ has been described by ministers as the basis of our defence strategy for nearly seventy years. Tony Blair proclaimed that ‘our independent nuclear deterrent has provided the ultimate assurance of our national security.’ We have used US missiles to carry our nuclear warheads but ministers of both main political parties have insisted that the nuclear weapon itself was British and designed at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston. After all, we first exploded an A-bomb in 1952 and H-bombs in 1957-58 without help from the US or other state. Yet last year a defence minister hinted at the truth for the first time: Britain’s nuclear warheads are of American design.


Pakistan’s Bomb

18 July 2019

In his review of Hassan Abbas’s book Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb, Owen Bennett-Jones refers to A.Q. Khan as the country’s ‘leading nuclear scientist’ (LRB, 18 July). Khan is a metallurgist, not a nuclear engineer or physicist. Two men in particular were responsible for building Pakistan’s bomb. One was Munir Khan, a nuclear engineer who worked at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna...

Poison and the Bomb

Norman Dombey, 20 December 2018

In​ February 1945 the Soviet people’s commissar for state security, V.N. Merkulov, sent a memo on the status of the Manhattan Project to his boss, Lavrentii Beria, head of the NKVD. Merkulov was responsible for collecting information from Soviet spies inside the Manhattan Project – in particular from Klaus Fuchs, a German refugee who was part of the British mission to Los...

North Korea’s Bomb

Norman Dombey, 2 February 2017

The sequence – tests followed by sanctions followed by more tests then yet more sanctions – has been going on for decades. Yet there is no complacency about the importance of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. Barack Obama is said to have told Donald Trump at their post-election meeting that North Korea is the biggest foreign threat the US faces.

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