I'm pretty much in agreement with you, gemini. Yes, I probably would have done the same. However, there is a bit of me that wonders if he couldn't have seen it coming. He's intelligent and his instincts are excellent. Wasn't there a moment, early on, when he could have spotted what was coming before they did, and maybe kept a lower profile? Having said that, it is easy with hindsight. We choose a path in life at a certain moment, not dreaming what really lies ahead, but then we realise that the gate behind us has shut, irrevocably, and there is no going back. In this sense, his story reminds me of Donnie Brasco, and Leftie. But to my mind, he is too sanguine about the whole business. There is a moment when he stops and reflect on how his life has turned out so differently from someone who didn't return to Iraq, but I don't remember very much more. I also think that he isn't just driven by the fear of the consequences of failure, but that his scientific mind gets too absorbed in what he is doing.
It just seems contradictory that he excelled where many others would have failed and took such pride in his successes that he may have lost track of what the end result might be.
I agree with your comment here, also. For example, when he conceals his achievement: "As my engineers and I celebrated, I suggested that we keep our achievement secret because we could present it as a surprise at an upcoming IAEC seminar on the diffusion technique... For a scientist, such a moment is a pinnacle of achievement. I basked in the praise from my colleagues, unaware of how this achievement would bring me to the attention of Saddam Hussein's powerful henchmen."
I feel that this
was the moment; the moment when he might have prevented what followed, had he behaved differently. After all, he knew what the game was, what the IAEC was after. This part I have quoted is on p55, after what we have already discussed, about not getting mixed up in politics: " The siginificance of al-Hashimi's remarks was plain. "It was not a great leap to imagine that the unstated question was whether the reactor could be used to develop bomb-grade material... The Tammuz reactor was to serve a purpose so important that the head of the IAEC feared that failure would cost him his life" p 48.