South Africa had a small, highly classified nuclear weapons program that produced a small but potent nuclear arsenal. At the end of the 1980s, as South Africa was nearing a transition to black majority rule, the South African government destroyed its nuclear arsenal and its research facilities connected with nuclear armaments and ballistic missiles. This article, based on archival research in the United States and South Africa, shows that the South African nuclear weapons program has to be understood in the context of the Cold War battlefield that southern Africa became in the mid-1970s. The article illuminates the complex U.S.–South African relationship and explains why the apartheid government in Pretoria sought nuclear weapons as a deterrent in the face of extensive Soviet-bloc aid to black liberation movements in southern Africa, the escalating conflict with Cuban forces and Soviet-backed guerrillas on Namibia's northern frontier, and the attacks waged by the African National Congress from exile. A clear link can be drawn between the apartheid government's quest for a nuclear deterrent, liberation in southern Africa, and the Cold War.

In 1989 the National Party (NP) government of South Africa willingly destroyed the country's six and a half nuclear devices when it became clear that the party could no longer maintain its “apartheid” segregation policy without dire consequences for the country. Over the years, many questions have been raised about why Pretoria wanted nuclear weapons and how it was able to obtain a nuclear capability in a relatively short period of time. The unavailability of archival material (the apartheid government allegedly destroyed device blueprints and related documents), complicates efforts to obtain the full picture. However, the ongoing declassification of archival material has allowed new insights into South Africa's nuclear weapons history. This article, based on research in South African and U.S. archives, tells a small piece of the story of “Apartheid's Bomb” and how it fit into the larger framework of southern Africa, which became a Cold War battlefield in the mid-1970s. In discussing this issue, the article focuses specifically on U.S.-South African relations.

The year 1974 was a watershed in apartheid South Africa's quest to obtain a nuclear device. After the leftwing military coup in Portugal that year, South African leaders anticipated the removal of the colonial governments in Angola and Mozambique and a surge of Communist influence in southern Africa.1 Cuban forces soon arrived in Angola, assisted by the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). This led the anti-Communist apartheid government in Pretoria to believe that a Soviet-orchestrated assault on southern Africa was inevitable. Furthermore, because of South Africa's increasing international isolation, officials in Pretoria believed they could not depend on outside assistance in the event of an attack. The South African authorities did not regard the radical black nationalist liberation movements as independent or legitimate, instead seeing them as controlled by Moscow and Havana. The NP thus believed it had to do everything in its power to prevent the southern African liberation movements from gaining control and installing Communist governments.2

Before 1974, South Africa's nuclear development enjoyed general support from the West, in particular the United States, which had long regarded South Africa as a strategic southern extension of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).3 The NP promised South African support for the West if the decolonization of Africa led to a clash with Communist forces.4 A close nuclear relationship between Washington and Pretoria had existed since the Second World War, when South Africa began secretly providing uranium for the U.S. government's Manhattan Project. Despite the NP's rise to power in 1948 and its immediate moves to create the legal tools with which to enforce the policy of apartheid, the United States did not appear to be overly concerned—at least not when the NP voiced its interest in nuclear technology, declaring in 1948 that the future of South Africa lay in the development of nuclear power. After the U.S. Congress passed the Atomic Energy Act in 1948, and South Africa formed an Atomic Energy Board (AEB) in March 1949, the U.S.–South African nuclear relationship gradually solidified. In July 1957, the two countries signed a bilateral agreement on the civilian uses of nuclear energy.5 This was followed in the early 1960s by the construction of a U.S.-supplied nuclear research reactor (the South African Fundamental Atomic Research Installation, or SAFARI-1) at Pelindaba near Pretoria.6

During the early years of NP rule, the main pressure on the policy of apartheid came from African and Asian states in the United Nations (UN), especially after the NP banned the two major South African liberation movements, the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in 1960 (the South African Communist Party, SACP, had been banned a decade earlier). By 1970, there was no real threat to Pretoria's security and sense of being in control in southern African. After banning the liberation movements, the NP had successfully used harsh repression to contain any uprisings. If at this stage the NP had plans to develop nuclear weapons, the only likely reason was prestige.7 The South Africans had refused to sign the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, suggesting they may have believed they were entitled to become part of the nuclear club by virtue of their country's regional great-power status.8 A few statements from AEB and other officials seem to support this notion. Former South African navy commodore (turned Soviet spy) Dieter Gerhardt ascribed a sinister meaning to South Africa's nuclear activities during this time, contending that South Africa had begun to develop an independent nuclear option as early as 1964. Other possible confirmations that South Africa was considering more than just peaceful uses of nuclear power include comments made in 1965 by AEB spokesman W. L. Grant that South Africa had the technical ability to develop nuclear weapons and comments by AEB member Andries Visser that South Africa should have a nuclear arsenal for “prestige purposes” and to prevent aggression from the Afro-Asiatic states.9

By 1974, Pretoria had obtained the ability to enrich uranium independently—a prerequisite for the successful development of nuclear weapons.10 Although South Africa needed several more years to become capable of producing the highly enriched uranium required for a nuclear explosive, Pretoria by the mid-1970s had largely freed itself from threats that its nuclear growth could be blocked by outsiders.11 A pilot uranium enrichment plant was built in 1971, and secret theoretical investigations into the feasibility of developing a nuclear explosive device commenced, followed in 1972 by practical investigations into a gun-type nuclear device and the design of a scale model containing non-nuclear material.12 At this stage, South Africa still faced no real regional or internal threat. The white minority governments in neighboring Mozambique, Rhodesia, and Angola effectively kept the few hundred exiled ANC guerrillas from easily penetrating South Africa.13 Thus, the only plausible reason for Pretoria's further investigations into the feasibility of developing a nuclear explosive device was a technological “can-do” mentality, along with a strong sense of Afrikaner nationalism.14

However, the 1974 coup in Portugal and the resulting overthrow of colonial governments in Angola and Mozambique were seen by Pretoria as disastrous for its regional and internal security. These developments convinced South African leaders that they needed a suitable deterrent against a perceived Communist onslaught. After a gun-type scale model was successfully tested with non-nuclear material in May 1974, the government approved the development of a peaceful nuclear explosive (PNE) device, as well as funding for an underground testing site in the Kalahari Desert.15 By early 1975, the pilot uranium enrichment plant was fully operational, and a second, fully commercial enrichment plant was being planned.16 South Africa by this point was nearing the ability to produce weapons-grade uranium.

In the meantime, India's explosion of a PNE in May 1974 highlighted the fact that civilian nuclear-related facilities and materials could be adapted for military uses. The Indian test, which elicited surprised reactions globally, almost certainly bolstered Pretoria's resolve to take the next step in its nuclear development.17 The United States apparently was reassured by Pretoria's ongoing assurance that South African nuclear activities were intended only for peaceful uses, despite announcements hinting at a nuclear weapons program and South Africa's continued refusal to sign the NPT.18 The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) suspected that a worsening security situation would influence Pretoria's decision to embark on a nuclear weapons program; however, the agency did not perceive the country's African neighbors as posing the sort of threat that might push Pretoria in that direction.19 In addition, the CIA incorrectly concluded that Pretoria did not yet have the facilities and enriched uranium needed to produce nuclear weapons.20

Not until May 1975 did the CIA acknowledge that Pretoria could adapt its uranium enrichment process to the production of weapons-grade material.21 However, U.S. officials seemed reluctant to investigate the matter further, possibly because of Pretoria's assistance in the Angolan civil war. To the consternation of both Washington and Pretoria, the Soviet Union was supplying the ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, MPLA) through large-scale airlifts of materials. Furthermore, the MPLA repeatedly requested Cuban advisers to assist with military training. When Moscow offered to cover the monetary cost and assured Cuba that the United States was unlikely to take action so soon after the Vietnam debacle, Castro agreed to send advisers and, later, troops to Angola. The first Cuban advisers arrived in August 1975.22 Shortly before, U.S. President Gerald Ford had proclaimed that resistance to Soviet expansion by military means must be a fundamental element of U.S. foreign policy.23 South Africa, with the covert support of the CIA, became involved in the Angolan war in June 1975 in support of the FNLA and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). U.S. support included $14 million for arms and planes, as well as operating costs.24

For the NP, the fall of the friendly Portuguese colonial administration and the ensuing civil war in Angola posed a major threat to South Africa's continued occupation of neighboring South West Africa and, more importantly, might lead to the loss of the cordon sanitaire between South West Africa and the emerging black majority governments to its north. Coupled with that, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN, formed in 1966), the armed wing of the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO), could now take advantage of the unrest in Angola, using it as a base from which to mount operations into South West Africa. Prior to the Angolan civil war, PLAN had mostly operated out of Zambia. Now South Africa was faced with a hostile regime in Angola and a militarized border to cross in pursuit of PLAN guerillas. In addition, cadres of the exiled ANC were receiving military training in Soviet-bloc countries as well as the People's Republic of China (PRC), and they, too, would potentially find refuge in Angola and infiltrate South Africa through South West Africa. The South African government thus faced the prospect of opposition from three entities on the South West African/Angolan border: the MPLA, SWAPO/PLAN, and the ANC. In Pretoria's view, all black nationalist movements under the influence of Communist countries such as the Soviet Union, the PRC, or Cuba had to be stopped before a total Communist takeover in the region was a fait accompli.25

In the meantime, South Africa continued along its path of nuclear development, with continued U.S. support for the peaceful application of its nuclear technology. Evidence of this continued support emerged in May 1976 during formal congressional hearings on the continued supply of enriched uranium for SAFARI-1 and the planned future sale of low-enriched fuel for a nuclear power station on South Africa's western coast, close to Cape Town.26 U.S. officials believed continued sales would allow the United States to exercise some control in a sensitive area while simultaneously preserving South Africa's cooperation with the initiatives U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was pursuing in southern Africa.27 These initiatives sought to establish black majority rule in South Africa's white-minority-governed northern neighbor, Rhodesia, with the assistance of the South African government. In turn, the United States signaled that it would grant South Africa time to enact economic and social reforms, on the premise that “within a reasonable time we shall see a clear evolution toward equality of opportunity and basic human rights for all South Africans.”28

The Communist involvement in Angola, U.S. congressional scrutiny of South African policies and nuclear development, and pressure for economic and social reforms convinced Pretoria once more that its security was in jeopardy and that it needed nuclear weapons not only as a deterrent but also as a strategy for securing the survival of apartheid. Two other events in 1976 enhanced this perceived threat. The first involved the U.S. Congress “pulling the plug” on U.S. involvement in Angola, thus bringing an end to the covert CIA support of South African military forces. South African officials responded that they were not prepared to fight the West's battle against Communist expansion on their own and would withdraw from Angola into South West Africa.29 The second event was the eruption of young black anger in the Soweto riots of June 1976, which occurred amid statements by South African officials that they intended to develop nuclear weapons.30 The riots made clear that the black youth, unwilling to accept Kissinger's liberation timetable for Southern Africa, would not postpone their demands for racial justice and equality. In the wake of the riots, many young refugees fled to the frontline states, where they received military training under Communist advisers using surplus Czechoslovak and Soviet equipment.31 This gave new impetus to the ANC's armed insurgency and guerrilla wars against apartheid South Africa and inevitably contributed to Pretoria's resolve to obtain a nuclear deterrent capability.32

Soviet involvement in Southern Africa only added to South Africa's security woes.33 But Pretoria would no longer be able to bank on the continued support of the United States in its fight against Communism. The Ford administration in 1976 had proposed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act, under which future export licenses for enriched uranium for SAFARI-1 and South Africa's planned nuclear power station would be withheld until Pretoria signed the NPT and agreed to the international safeguarding of its nuclear facilities.34 Furthermore, in late 1976, Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in the U.S. presidential election. Carter promised a new policy toward South Africa, one based more on human rights than on trying to prevent Communist gains at all costs.35 The new administration tried to strike a negotiating position with Pretoria on safeguards, exports, and nuclear fuel supply as part of its broader nonproliferation policy, but these efforts were dealt a blow in August 1977 when the Soviet Union spotted South Africa's construction of an underground nuclear test site in the Kalahari Desert.36 The United States was alerted, and Pretoria was subsequently warned by the U.S., Soviet, and British governments not to proceed with any planned nuclear test.37 Indignant at the warnings, South Africa denied that any test was contemplated.38 This, however, was blatantly false, given the 1974 decision to build a PNE and the planned testing of the device at the Kalahari site.

In the months following the Kalahari incident, South Africa's position in the international arena deteriorated rapidly. Its participation in the UN General Assembly and the UN's specialized agencies was suspended, followed by a mandatory arms embargo and a voluntary oil embargo in 1977. South Africa was also denied its seat on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and subsequently excluded from participating in the General Conference of the IAEA. Finally, the South Africans faced the looming independence and black-majority rule of neighboring Zimbabwe (which, although not a triumph for the Soviet Union, was a triumph for Communism, insofar as the Zimbabwe African National Union—Patriotic Front had traditionally looked to China for ideological guidance, organization, and support). This, coupled with the perceived expansion of Soviet influence now that two radical black nationalist governments were established on South Africa's northern frontier, led Pretoria to backtrack on a 1978 commitment to grant independence to South West Africa (Namibia). The NP government was convinced that South Africa's borders would become increasingly vulnerable and that it would not be able to rely on the international community for assistance if South African territory came under direct threat.39

Throughout this period, South African Prime Minister John Vorster remained intransigent on the subject of political and racial justice at home. In addition to multiplying defense spending, he adopted new security laws that made South Africa a garrison state designed to suppress the revolts of the black majority.40 The government launched a “total strategy” aimed at blocking pressure for majority rule and insurgencies.41 In 1978, Pretoria formally decided to develop a limited nuclear capability as a deterrent that would demonstrate not only the government's ability to defend South Africa but also to inflict serious damage on any aggressors.42 A three-phase nuclear strategy was adopted, entailing the clandestine development of nuclear weapons, secretly revealing that nuclear capability to the United States and other countries in the event of a military threat to South African territory, and, if secret disclosure had no effect, publicly announcing the capability and possibly conducting a nuclear test. Fearing retaliation, South Africa did not envision actual military use of a nuclear weapon; it was meant only to place South Africa in a position of power and authority in any future political or major international negotiations.43 In 1978 South Africa completed its first nuclear device, which was then dismantled for parts. In early 1979 the country completed a second, smaller device intended for an underground test, and in July 1979 the government approved the building of seven deliverable nuclear weapons in order to acquire a credible deterrent capability.44

Hence, by the early 1980s, South Africa was a de facto nuclear weapons state. Suspicion of this fact in the international community was enhanced by two nuclear-like flashes in the Indian Ocean in September 1979 and December 1980.45 The flashes led to a widespread belief that South Africa had conducted one or more nuclear tests.46 South Africa's involvement could not be proven, however.47 As suspicions about its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program steadily grew, Pretoria continued to refuse to sign the NPT, stating that the political and security situation in Southern Africa had not improved enough to convince it that signing the treaty would be in the best interests of the country. Its concerns were not unfounded.48 First, the war in Angola intensified and the number of Cuban forces there increased steadily. Second, the exiled ANC accelerated its attempts to break the apartheid government's grip on South Africa through a new strategy involving mass mobilization and an intensified armed struggle.49

The NP government thus continued in its resolve to develop nuclear weapons, including the construction of an ultra-secret nuclear facility called Advena, where the country's third nuclear device was completed in 1982. The entire South African nuclear arsenal was stored in special vaults at this facility, and advanced research into implosion and thermonuclear technology and longer-range ballistic missile delivery systems was conducted there.50 Pretoria continued to deny it was working on a nuclear arsenal, however, and when probed about the matter would generally respond, “Where would we drop a bomb anyway?”51 Apartheid leaders in later years unanimously agreed that it was naive to think they would ever use the nuclear devices in an offensive capacity, because doing so would have meant national suicide, bringing upon South Africa the combined wrath of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the UN Security Council.52 Still, the international community widely believed that South Africa had a nuclear capability, and some even suspected Pretoria might just use it on its neighbors if the security position continued to deteriorate.53 The CIA, for example, believed that Pretoria was following a policy of calculated ambiguity by indicating the country had the capability to produce nuclear weapons while insisting it had no interest in doing so. This policy allowed South Africa to avoid the intense pressures for safeguards and sanctions that would inevitably follow any revelation of a nuclear weapons capability. The CIA did not believe that Pretoria was likely to test a nuclear explosive device within five years because the resultant increase in tensions on the African continent and with the West would be greater than the political and military gains. On the other hand, the CIA recognized that growing Cold War tensions, if accompanied by perceptions that the United States was losing ground to the Soviet Union in Africa or was losing interest in Africa, might provide an incentive to Pretoria to conduct a nuclear test as a warning to the Soviet Union that it would not be bullied.54

By the mid-1980s, the Cuban contingent in Angola had grown rapidly, leading to an escalation in South African military involvement in both Angola and Namibia. Officials in Pretoria decided that “the strategy of political pressure and blackmail of the West should be driven home once again” and thus ordered the reopening of the underground nuclear test shafts in the Kalahari Desert.55 Apparently, the hope was that U.S. and Soviet spy satellites would again pick up the activity, causing the two superpowers to think South Africa was getting ready to test a nuclear device, which in turn would prompt the United States to put pressure on the Soviet Union to force the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola.56 Pretoria was treading on dangerous ground with this notion, however. According to a CIA National Intelligence Estimate, a revelation that South Africa possessed nuclear weapons would have immediately fueled tensions in southern Africa, likely causing the Soviet Union to provide more-sophisticated air defense systems and increased arms and advisory assistance to its African allies.57

By 1985, the continued pressure on Pretoria from all fronts for political reform started to take its toll. In addition to the ongoing military and political confrontation with Cuban and Soviet-backed forces in Angola, the country faced a surge of internal unrest and continued incursions by ANC guerrillas. The sanctions net around South Africa had also begun to tighten in nearly every sphere of international relations, and the UN was demanding the immediate independence of South West Africa (Namibia).58 By the mid-1980s, South Africa faced, in the words of former State President F. W. de Klerk, a “total onslaught.”59

Events only escalated from there.60 In May 1986, South African armed forces raided ANC facilities in three neighboring countries, triggering a new wave of comprehensive international sanctions against Pretoria.61 In Angola, even though the Cuban presence was starting to take its toll and the Soviet Union, under the new leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, was looking for a way out, Fidel Castro believed his Cuban troops could withdraw with honor only if they were instrumental in obtaining the independence of Namibia. More Cuban troops were sent to Angola as a result, with Pretoria responding by calling up the majority of its reserve force. By May 1988, the Angolan war had been transformed from a game of cat-and-mouse to a standoff between two small armies with heavy artillery and modern weapons.62 This led to renewed concerns about South Africa's nuclear capability. South African leaders acknowledged they had two uranium enrichment plants capable of producing highly-enriched uranium, as well as the capability to produce a nuclear bomb “should they want to do so.” Even though the government refused to acknowledge that it had nuclear weapons, it in fact had six by this point.63

Amid fears that the military situation in Angola could escalate into something far more severe, the opposing parties finally embarked on intense negotiations. In July 1988, Pretoria requested talks with the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union on the renunciiation of nuclear weapons and the opening of all its nuclear facilities to international inspection.64 On 22 December 1988, the New York Accords were signed by representatives of Angola, Cuba, and South Africa, granting independence to Namibia and ending the direct involvement of foreign troops in the Angolan civil war.

By 1989, South Africa had no reason to continue with its nuclear weapons development. Much had changed both in southern Africa and abroad, leading to an improvement in South Africa's external security situation. The transformation of the Soviet Union, symbolized by Gorbachev's far-reaching change of policy toward radical liberation movements and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall at the end of 1989, resulted in the withdrawal of Soviet support from southern Africa and, with it, the near elimination of the risk of nuclear war in the region. Furthermore, Cuban and South African military contingents started to withdraw from Namibia (to be replaced by UN peacekeeping forces) shortly after the New York Accords were signed. In South Africa, the new state president, F.W. de Klerk, had started talking with the ANC about political reform in South Africa. All of these developments induced de Klerk to consider far-reaching changes inside South Africa, including the release of ANC Deputy-President Nelson Mandela after 27 years in jail.65 Along with an ad hoc cabinet committee, de Klerk in late 1989 decided to destroy South Africa's entire nuclear deterrent capability.66 Over the next two years, the plant for making highly enriched uranium was closed, the enriched uranium was downgraded to make it unsuitable for weapons, and the blueprints were destroyed.67 On 8 July 1991, South Africa finally signed the NPT under intense pressure from Washington, which was extremely concerned about the possibility that a nuclear capability would fall into the hands of a radical black South African government with links to Communist and extremist Islamic countries.68 Finally, in March 1993, de Klerk confirmed during a joint session of the South African Parliament that South Africa had developed six and a half crude nuclear bombs during a top secret fifteen-year program, without foreign assistance, and that this arsenal had been completely dismantled.69

A clear link can be drawn between the South African apartheid government's quest for a nuclear deterrent, liberation in southern Africa, and the Cold War. For Pretoria, the perceived expansion of Communism and radical black liberation movements in southern Africa were indistinguishable and had to be addressed together. One way of doing this was by adopting an ambiguous nuclear posture, creating in the minds of “opponents” a high degree of uncertainty about South Africa's nuclear capability and its intensions regarding the use of that capability.70 By keeping everyone guessing about whether it had “a bomb in the basement,” Pretoria gained a degree of leverage in its relations with the outside world and within the geopolitical dynamics of southern Africa. Even when the United States instituted measures against South Africa in the late 1970s in an effort to change the traditional close nuclear relationship between the two countries, it was not sufficient to halt or even slow down Pretoria's nuclear weapons development. In fact, in light of what the CIA knew about Pretoria's nuclear development, the U.S. effort seems almost halfhearted in retrospect. For Washington, the objective of waging the Cold War apparently outweighed liberation and the principle of “one man, one vote” in southern Africa.



Jeffrey T. Richelson, Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006), pp. 244–245; David Albright, “South Africa and the Affordable Bomb,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 50, No. 4 (July/August 1994), p. 41; Peter Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” International Security, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Fall 2001), p. 56; and David Albright, “South Africa Comes Clean,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 49, No. 4 (May 1993), pp. 3–6.


Jeremy Shearar, “Denuclearization in Africa: The South African Dimension,” Disarmament, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1993), pp. 171–186; Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, pp. 244–245; Albright, “South Africa and the Affordable Bomb,” p. 41; Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” p. 56; and Albright, “South Africa Comes Clean,” pp. 3–6.


Richard E. Bissell, South Africa and the United States: The Erosion of an Influence Relationship (New York: Praeger, 1982), p. 8; Daan Prinsloo, United States Foreign Policy and the Republic of South Africa (Pretoria: Department of Foreign Affairs, 1978), p. 46; Peter J. Schraeder, United States Foreign Policy toward Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 191–192; and Study Commission on U.S. Policy toward South Africa, South Africa: Time Running Out (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), p. 344.


U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Scientific Intelligence (CIAOSI), Nuclear Activities of Foreign Nations, Scientific Intelligence Research Aid, Volume IV: Asia and Africa, 30 September 1956, in Digital National Security Archives (DNSArchives), Doc. WM00016; U.S Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Science and Technology (CIADST), Atomic Energy Activities in the Republic of South Africa, Scientific and Technical Intelligence Report, March 1971, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00146; and Robert K. Massie, Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years (New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1997), p. 20.


CIAOSI, Nuclear Activities of Foreign Nations; CIADST, Atomic Energy Activities in the Republic of South Africa; Hannes Steyn, Richardt van der Walt, and Jan van Loggerenberg, Nuclear Armament and Disarmament: South Africa's Nuclear Experience (Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2007), p. 31; and Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, p. 243.


The project also included the provision of enriched fuel for the reactor. See CIADST, Atomic Energy Activities in the Republic of South Africa; “South Africa Plans Nuclear Research Center,” The Christian Science Monitor, 21 December 1961, p. 11; Joseph Lelyveld, “Reactor Started in South Africa,” The New York Times, 6 August 1965, p. 7; Prinsloo, United States Foreign Policy, pp. 61–62; Ronald W. Walters, South Africa and the Bomb: Responsibility and Deterrence (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 1987), pp. 89–90; and Helen W. Purkitt and Stephen F. Burgess, South Africa's Weapons of Mass Destruction (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2005), p. 36.


Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, p. 243.


Juan de Onis, “Nuclear Treaty Endorsed in U.N. by 92-to-4 Vote,” The New York Times, 11 June 1968, pp. 1–2.


Dieter Gerhardt, interview, 5–6 February 2012; Ronen Bergman, “Treasons of Conscience,” Mail and Guardian, 11–17 August 2000, p. 20; K. F. Nyamekye, “South Africa's Nuclear Build-Up: A Threat to International Peace,” October 1978, p. 1, in Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University, Collection: United Nations Center against Apartheid, Notes and Documents; and Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, p. 243.


“South Africa Releases Further Information on Their Isotope Separation Process,” CIAOSI Weekly Surveyor, 12 October 1970, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00143.


“New Uranium Method Told by South Africa,” The New York Times, 19 August 1970, p. A4.


Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, p. 244; Albright, “South Africa and the Affordable Bomb,” p. 41; Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” p. 56; and Albright, “South Africa Comes Clean,” pp. 3–6.


Massie, Loosing the Bonds, p. 494.


Hilton Hamman, Days of the Generals (Cape Town: Zebra Press, 2001), p. 165.


Magnus Malan, My Life with the SA Defence Force (Pretoria: Protea Boekhuis, 2006), p. 216; and Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, pp. 244–245.


“South African Uranium Enrichment Plant in Operation,” CIAOSI Weekly Surveyor, 21 April 1975, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00178; “Some Aspects of South African Uranium Enrichment Process Revealed,” CIAOSI Weekly Surveyor, 5 May 1975, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00179; and CIAOSI, “South African Uranium Enrichment Program,” Report, 22 August 1977, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00203.


John Simpson, “The Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime: Back to the Future?” Disarmament Forum, Vol. 1 (2004), p. 7.


“US-South African Nuclear Problems,” Memorandum, n.d., in Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (RRPL), Simi Valley, CA, National Security Council Executive Secretariat, System File 8391020; “South African–United States Nuclear Relations,” Memorandum, 20 March 1981, in SAFAA, Pretoria, Collection: Kernkrag—Uiters Geheim, Box 356, File 2/5/2/1, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, 1 January 1981–8 May 1981; and Walters, South Africa and the Bomb, p. 91.


U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, “Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” Memorandum, 2 October 1974, in DNSArchives, Doc. SA00471.


“South Africa Not Currently in Position to Produce Nuclear Weapons,” CIAOSI Weekly Surveyor, 22 July 1974, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00171.


“Some Aspects of South African Uranium Enrichment Process Revealed,” CIAOSI Weekly Surveyor, 5 May 1975, pp. 1–3.


Kelly Bell, “Operation Savannah: Task Force Zulu and the Rommel of Angola,” Modern War, Vol. 4 (March–April 2013), p. 44; Massie, Loosing the Bonds, p. 494; and Sue Onslow and Anna-Mart van Wyk, eds., Southern Africa in the Cold War, Post-1974 (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2013), pp. 154–155.


Massie, Loosing the Bonds, p. 373.


Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959–1976 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), p. 291; and Massie, Loosing the Bonds, pp. 373, 382–383.


Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, p. 294; Willem Steenkamp, Borderstrike! South Africa into Angola 1975–1980, 3rd ed. (Durban: Just Done Productions, 2006); Leopold Scholtz, “The Namibian Border War: An Appraisal of the South African Strategy,” Scientia Militaria: South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1 (2006), pp. 26–27; and Shearar, “Denuclearization in Africa: The South African Dimension,” pp. 171–186.


“U.S. Sells Rich Uranium Fuel to South Africa,” Los Angeles Times, 14 April 1975, p. 2.


Charles C. Diggs and Yvonne B. Burke to the President, 1 June 1976, in Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library (GRFL), Ann Arbor, MI, White House Central File, Subject Files, TA3/CO135-157; Walters, South Africa and the Bomb, pp. 91–92; and “Reactor Sale to South Africa,” Memorandum from D. Elliott to B. Scowcroft, 28 May 1976, in GRFL, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, 1974–1977, File: South Africa (4).


South African Democracy Education Trust, The Road to Democracy in South Africa: 1970–1980 (Pretoria: Unisa Press, 2004), p. 70.


Massie, Loosing the Bonds, p. 384.


“South Africa Again Rumored to Be Working on Nuclear Weapons,” CIAOSI Weekly Surveyor, 13 September 1976, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00192.


“U.S. Southern African Policy Revisited,” Memorandum by Ruth Morgenthau, 1 March 1977, in Jimmy Carter Library (JCL), Atlanta, GA, White House Central File, CO141: 20 January 1977–31 May 1977, Box CO-53.


Massie, Loosing the Bonds, pp. 494–495.


General Magnus Malan quoted in Hamann, Days of the Generals, p. 165.


Paul van Slambrouck, “South Africa Prepares to ‘Go Nuclear,’” The Christian Science Monitor, 31 January 1984, p. 1; and Walters, South Africa and the Bomb, pp. 91–92.


D. R. Culverson, “The Politics of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the United States, 1969–1986,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 111, No. 1 (Spring 1986), p. 132.


“1 U.S. Option: Help South Africa Enrich,” Nuclear Fuel, 8 August 1977, pp. 1–2, in SAFAA, Pretoria, Collection: Kernkrag—Uiters Geheim, Box 356, File 2/5/2/1, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, 1 January 1981–8 May 1981; Study Commission on U.S. Policy toward South Africa, South Africa: Time Running Out, p. 358; and “Moscow Says A-bomb Near in South Africa,” The New York Times, 7 August 1977, p. 13.


Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, p. 279.


Massie, Loosing the Bonds, p. 414; and “South Africa Lashes Out at U.S.,” The Christian Science Monitor, 8 August 1977, p. 2.


Shearar, “Denuclearization in Africa,” pp. 171–186.


U.S. Southern African Policy Revisited Memorandum from Ruth S. Morgenthau, 1 March 1977, in Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, White House Correspondence Files, CO141, 20 Jan. 1977–31 May 1977, Box CO-53.


“Administration Total War: Feedback to the Management Committee,” 11 September 1981, in Archives of the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor Archives), Pretoria, State Security Board, Economic Liaison Committee, File 1/15/2/3/2, Vol. 5, Main Management: Departmental Committees, Commissions and Management Boards; J. F. Burns, “Afrikaners Dig In against Threat to Their Rule,” The New York Times, 4 April 1977, pp. 1, 8; and Study Commission on U.S. Policy toward South Africa, South Africa: Time Running Out, p. 235.


Shearar, “Denuclearization in Africa,” pp. 171–186.


Malan, My Life with the South African Defence Force, p. 216; Shearar, “Denuclearization in Africa,” pp. 171–186; Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” p. 56; Albright, “South Africa and the Affordable Bomb,” pp. 37–48; and Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, p. 283.


Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” pp. 53–54; Albright, “South Africa and the Affordable Bomb,” pp. 37–48; Albright, “South Africa Comes Clean,” pp. 3–6; and Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, pp. 283–284.


Walter Sullivan, “Pentagon Concludes Flash of Dec 16 Was a Meteor,” The New York Times, 19 February 1981, p. A24; and “South African–United States Nuclear Relations,” Memorandum, 20 March 1981, in SAFAA.


“South African–United States Nuclear Relations”; and Frank V. Pabian, “South Africa's Nuclear Weapons Program, Lessons for U.S. Nonproliferation Policy,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Fall 1995), p. 6.


“The 22 September 1979 Event,” Interagency Intelligence Memorandum, December 1979, in DNSArchives, Doc. SA00987; Jeffrey T. Richelson, ed., “The Vela Incident: Nuclear Test or Meteoroid?” NSArchives Briefing Book No. 190, 5 May 2006; “Possible Nuclear Detonation in the South Atlantic,” Memorandum by the Mini-Special Coordinating Committee, 9 January 1980, in JCL, Vertical File: South Africa; “Report Atomic Explosion by Israel in September,” Chicago Tribune, 22 February 1980, p. 1; J. K. Cooley, “New US Concern: Repercussions over Nuclear-Type Flash,” The Christian Science Monitor, 25 February 1980, p. 1; R. A. Manning and S. Talbot, “The Case of the Mystery Flash,” Los Angeles Times, 18 July 1980, pt. 2, p. 7; Steve Goldfield and Hilton Obenzinger, “South Africa: The Israeli Connection,” American Arab Affairs, Vol. 18 (Spring 1986), p. 123; David Albright and Corey Gay, “A Flash from the Past,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 1996, pp. 15–17; and Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” p. 45.


Malan, My Life with the South African Defence Force, p. 216; and Shearar, “Denuclearization in Africa,” pp. 171–186.


Hamman, Days of the Generals, p. 123.


Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” pp. 53–54; Albright, “South Africa Comes Clean,” pp. 3–6; Pabian, “South Africa's Nuclear Weapons Program,” pp. 5–6; Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, pp. 370–371, 374; and Malan, My Life with the South African Defence Force, p. 217.


Steve Mufson, “Nuclear Club: Set to Explode? South Africa Has Technology and Manpower to Make Nuclear Weapons, but for What?” The Wall Street Journal, 28 November 1984, p. 1.


Shearar, “Denuclearization in Africa,” pp. 171–186; and Hamman, Days of the Generals, p. 167.


J. E. Spence, “South Africa: The Nuclear Option,” African Affairs, Vol. 80, No. 321 (October 1981), pp. 445–447; Oye Ogunbadejo, “Africa's Nuclear Capability,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1 (March 1984), pp. 35–36; and “G-6 HSMP Gun/Howitzer,” Cable from USDAO to U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC, 13 September 1982, in DNSArchives, Doc. SA-01429.


“New Information on South Africa's Nuclear Program and South African-Israeli Nuclear and Military Cooperation,” CIAOSI Summary Assessment, 30 March 1983, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00273; and CIADCI, “Trends in South Africa's Nuclear Security Policies and Programs,” National Intelligence Estimate, 5 October 1984, in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00291.


Hamann, Days of the Generals, p. 168.




“Trends in South Africa's Nuclear Security Policies and Programs,” in DNSArchives, Doc. WM00291.


“Resolution 39/50 A and B, Adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, December 12, 1984: Condemnation of the Occupation of Namibia and Demand for Its Independence,” in DNSArchives, Doc. SA01709; and “Security Council Widens S. Africa Arms Embargo,” Los Angeles Times, 14 December 1984, p. 12.


Malan, My Life with the South African Defence Force, p. 188; and Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, p. 372.


“Nuclear Discussion with the South African Government,” Memorandum from R. T. Kennedy and F. G. Wisner to Acting Secretary, 21 March 1986, in RRPL, National Security Council Executive Secretariat, System File, 8804975; and “Our Discussions with the South Africans on Nuclear Matters,” Memorandum from C. A. Crocker and R. Kennedy to the Secretary, 23 April 1986, in RRPL, National Security Council Executive Secretariat, PA Files, 8603438.


“The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act,” 18 October 1986, in Armscor Archives, Sanctions and Arms Embargoes, Box 3, File 5, Legislation; and “Sanctions against South Africa: Current Legislative Issues,” Research Document, 14 August 1986, in Armscor Archives, Main Management, Foreign Affairs and Organization, Embargo, File 1/17/1, Vol. 5.


Massie, Loosing the Bonds, pp. 639–640.


“Pretoria Says It Can Build A-arms,” The New York Times, 14 August 1988, p. 16; and “Superpowers Urge SA to Sign Nuke Treaty,” The Citizen, 22 September 1988, p. 5.


Paul Lewis, “Pretoria Willing to Discuss Atom Ban,” The New York Times, 15 July 1988, p. A3.


British Broadcasting Corporation, “1990, Freedom for Nelson Mandela,” On This Day, 11 Febr-uary 1990, http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/11/newsid_2539000/2539947.stm.


Shearar, “Denuclearization in Africa,” pp. 171–186; and Hamman, Days of the Generals, p. 218.


Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” p. 56.


“Main Points Arising from Luncheon on 14 November 1989,” Memorandum from Herbert Beukes to Richard Carter, 17 November 1989, in SAFAA, Collection: Kernkrag—Uiters Geheim Box 356, File 2/5/2/1, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, 1 January 1981–8 May 1981; Malan, My Life with the South African Defence Force, p. 218; Albright, “South Africa Comes Clean,” pp. 3–6; David Albright and Mark Hibbs, “South Africa: The ANC and the Atom Bomb,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 49, No. 3 (April 1993), pp. 32–38; and “De Klerk: South Africa Had the Bomb,” Africa Report, Vol. 38, No. 3 (May–June 1993), p. 6.


Bill Keller, “South Africa Says It Built 6 Atom Bombs,” The New York Times, 25 March 1993, p. A1; “News Summary: Pretoria Built Nuclear Bombs; Old Suspicions Confirmed,” The New York Times, 25 March 1993; Albright, “South Africa Comes Clean,” pp. 3–6; “De Klerk: South Africa Had the Bomb,” Africa Report, p. 6; Liberman, “The Rise and Fall of the South African Bomb,” p. 56; and R. J. Smith, “South Africa's 16-Year Secret: The Nuclear Bomb,” The Washington Post, 12 May 1993,” p. A1.


Spence, “South Africa,” p. 444.