Giving it up: The case of South Africa

10 October 2006

North Korea going nuclear should be an occasion to reflect that plenty of countries have given up the Bomb: South Africa, for example, had built six nuclear bombs under apartheid, and now has none.

Speaking on the BBC Word Service this lunchtime, Professor Renfrew Christie (University of the Western Cape) described the circumstances through which South Africa gave up its nuclear weapons programme. For one thing, the ANC didn’t want the weapons; for another, the US had carried out a “Hostile Nations Contingency Planning Exercise” which had decided that Nelson Mandela would pass nuclear secrets to Gaddafi in Libya. Christie commented that this was nonsense, proposing that the US’s real concern had been to prevent the Bomb falling into “non-white hands”. “The West would not support a democratic settlement [in South Africa] unless the Bomb was not there.” This suited the ANC, which didn’t want the Bomb anyway.

This seems at odds, though, with ex-AEC head Waldo Stumpf’s statement that “official date of implementation of the termination of South Africa’s weapons program” is 26th February 1990.

Ben at Ken Yersel