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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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South African Nuclear History

This collection provides a look at nearly twenty-five years of South African nuclear policy. These documents shed new light on the country’s unique nuclear history, from early uranium supply arrangements under the United States-South Africa Atomic Energy Bilateral to the South African response to the September 1979 Vela incident, through the early 1990s when it announced the existence and subsequent destruction of its nuclear program. This collection is a result of the partnership between the Wilson Center’s Nuclear Proliferation International History Project and Monash South Africa. See also Nuclear Proliferation, and the related collections in the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. (Image, Pelindaba Nuclear Research Centre, South Africa, NJR ZA)

  • October 29, 1965

    Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Ambassador to France, 'Visit to South Africa – Prof. Francis Perrin'

    Request to make arrangements for French physicist Francis Perrin's visit to South Africa.

  • January, 1966

    Briefing for South African Representative to the United Nations

    Instructions to a South African delegate to the United Nations.

  • January 24, 1966

    South African Ambassador to France to Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 'Shipping of U.S.A. Plutonium to France'

    Ambassador Kotze reports that a French Foreign Ministry official stated that plutonium is shipped from the United States to France for civil research purposes.

  • October 19, 1966

    South African Chargé d’Affaires in Paris to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 'Mr Robert Hirsch – Invitation to Visit South Africa'

    The South African Embassy in Paris requests more information about invitations extended to French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) administrator Robert Hirsch, as well as Bertrand Goldschmidt and Jacques Mabile.

  • October 31, 1966

    Secretary for Foreign Affairs to South African Ambassador to France, 'Mr Robert Hirsch – Invitation to Visit South Africa'

    Details about invitations and timing of Robert Hirsch and Bertrand Goldschmidt's visit to South Africa in November.

  • March 18, 1967

    South African Department of Foreign Affairs, 'Nuclear Proliferation Problem'

    Summary of the United States-South Africa Atomic Energy Bilateral. South Africa's sale of source material to France was the subject of some disagreement between the two parties, with the Americans worried that sale of this material would be in violation of the non-proliferation treaty.

  • March 31, 1967

    Letter, South African Ambassador to the United States Taswell, "United States Defence Policy"

    The South African ambassador to the United States writes to the South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Cape Town to discuss a story published in the Rand Daily Mail that reported a United States plan to invade Southern Africa.

  • May, 1967

    South African Department of Foreign Affairs, 'Items of Interest in the Field of Atomic Energy'

    Summary of the communication between South African and American policymakers regarding the renewal of the Atomic Energy Cooperation Agreement. The renewal of the previous agreement was contingent on South Africa reforming its safeguards policy and modeling them after the Canadian and US policies.

  • May, 1967

    South Africa Department of Foreign Affairs, 'Items of Interest in the Field of Atomic Energy, Renewal of the Untied States/South Africa Atomic Energy Cooperation Agreement (July 1957 to July 1967)'

    Report on the status of negotiations with Washington over the extension of South Africa's Bilateral with the United States.

  • May, 1967

    Report, South African Department of Foreign Affairs, 'Cooperation with Argentina in the Atomic Energy Field'

    Details the current status of South African nuclear cooperation with Argentina, France and Israel as well as South Africa's redesignation to the IAEA Board of Governors.

  • May, 1967

    Report, South African Department of Foreign Affairs, 'Items of Interest in the Field of Atomic Energy: Developments During March-April-May 1967'

    South African report summarizing communication between South African and US officials on the renewal of their atomic energy cooperation agreement, as well as cooperation with Argentina and France, discussion of the sale of uranium to Israel, and South Africa's redesignation to the IAEA board of governors.

  • May 18, 1967

    Report, South African Foreign Affairs Archives, 'The Nuclear Proliferation Problem'

    Report on the progress of South African discussions with Washington to extend the United States-South Africa Atomic Energy Bilateral

  • June 28, 1967

    Meeting Minutes, 'Points of Interest arising from Uranium Marketing Committee Meeting: June 26, 1967'

    Notes the current negotiations of the major nuclear powers from a meeting of the South African Uranium Marketing Committee.

  • September 06, 1967

    Director-General of South African Atomic Energy Board to Secretary for Foreign Affairs

    Roux approves of the proposed collaboration agreement with the French Atomic Energy Commission.

  • November 03, 1967

    Chairman of the South African Atomic Energy Board to Secretary for Foreign Affairs

    Roux sends two possible letter replies to Robert Hirsch, administrator of the French Atomic Energy Commission.

  • November 28, 1967

    Letter from J.L. Stevenson to A.C. Stuart, 'East German Statements on Bonn-Pretoria Alliance'

    J. L. Stevenson concludes that recent East German statements about West German/South African military cooperation, including in nuclear energy, are baseless and that the recent cooperation appears benign.

  • 1968

    South African, Information on Armscor and Armaments Development and Production Act

  • June 06, 1968

    South African Ambassador to Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 'Compatibility of the Euratom Treaty with France’s Intention to Obtain Plutonium and Other Fissile Materials from Canada'

    Ambassador Kotze notes three issues with the agreement which may aggravate tensions within the Euratom Energy Community.

  • January 28, 1970

    Memorandum from South African Department of Foreign Affairs Regarding Mirage Aircraft

    The South African Ambassador in Cologne sends information on a meeting with a representative of the Dornier Aircraft Company regarding the possible purchase by South Africa of Mirage aircraft and their re-export to Israel.

  • June, 1970

    Handwritten Note on French and South African Nuclear Collaboration

    Drafted notes advising that the agreement between France and South Africa should be made public to underline that it is solely for peaceful purposes.