Search in
ADD SEARCH FILTER CANCEL SEARCH FILTER

Digital Archive International History Declassified

No image found.

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)

  • August 31, 1977

    Cable from South African Embassy in the US to the South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs on South Africa and the Bomb

    Telegram from the South African embassy in Washington to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Pretoria in response to a Washington Post article which alleged that South African had developed an untested nuclear weapon and became "the seventh nuclear power even though it will not be recognized as such." The conclusion drawn is that the article will lead to a watershed moment in South Africa’s international relations.

  • September, 1977

    Draft Letter to B. Cardledge on Conversation with US Deputy Undersecretary of State Joseph Nye on South African Nuclear Intentions

    Nye stated that at present the United States preferred to "concentrate on pressing South Africa to adhere to the NPT rather than continuing to enquire about the nature of the Kalahari facility." The State Department assessment was that while South Africa was capable of building a bomb at short notice, they did not actually plan to test one at this time.

  • September, 1977

    Report, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Special Projects Division, 'South Africa: Motivations and Capabilities for Nuclear Proliferation'

    This report for the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) pointed to downsides of US and international pressures against pariah or otherwise beleaguered states such as South Africa and Israel and against would-be nuclear proliferants. They might cooperate to advance their goals.

  • September 08, 1977

    Letter from J.S. Wall to Bryan Cartledge, 'South African Nuclear Intentions'

    J.S. Wall of the UK Foreign and Commonweath Office reports on a conversation with David Aaron of the US National Security Council on concerns about South Africa's possible nuclear testing facility in the Kalahari desert.

  • September 13, 1977

    Memorandum from C.L.G. Mallaby of the UK Arms Control and Disarmament Department, 'South Africa and the Non-Proliferation Treat'

    Mallaby outlines the UK position on South African accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  • September 19, 1977

    Telegram from South African Embassy in Washington to the Department of Foreign Affairs Summarizing a Washington Star Newspaper Article on 'South Africa and the Bomb'

    Summary of Washington Star newspaper article on Carter administration concerns that South Africa was developing nuclear weapons.

  • September 21, 1977

    Letter from C.L.G. Mallaby of the UK Arms Control and Disarmament Department to H.M.S. Reid, 'South African Nuclear Intentions: the Kalahari Facility'

    Mallaby reports on a conversation at the Nuclear Suppliers Meeting with the US Deputy Under-Secretary for Security Assistance, Nye, on whether the US would raise the issue of South Africa's Kalahari nuclear testing facility. The US assumption was that the South Africans intended to "be on the brink of having a nuclear weapons capability" in order to "moderate Western diplomatic pressure on her about racial and other issues."

  • September 22, 1977

    Letter from H.M.S. Reid to Mr. Mallaby, 'South African Nuclear Intentions: the Kalahari Facility'

    In response to Mallaby's letter, Reid dismisses the American explanation for the South African Kalahari nuclear testing facility. He believes that the South Africans "feel increasingly threatened and foresee a possible need to use nuclear weapons in their own defence if it should come to that."

  • September 29, 1977

    One Hundred and Ninety-Eighth Plenary Meeting of the Twenty First International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference in Vienna (Statement by South African Rep. to the IAEA von Schirnding)

    Record of the 198th Plenary Meeting of the 21st International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference held in Vienna, including a statement by South African Representative to the IAEA, von Schirnding. Von Schirnding discusses the Agency's achievements and failutres over its twenty years of existence. He also discusses South Africa's own nuclear energy program, stating that the country does not intend to develop nuclear weapons.

  • September 29, 1977

    Telegram from the UK Embassy in Vienna to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on South African Statement to the IAEA General Conference

    The UK Embassy in Vienna reports on the South African statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference denying Soviet accusations that the country was developing nuclear weapons.

  • September 30, 1977

    Draft letter and Aide Memoire from South African Foreign Minister R.F. Botha to US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance

    South African Foreign Minister R.F. Botha writes to the US Secretary of State disputing accusations that South Africa is developing nuclear weapons.

  • October, 1977

    Letter from South African Prime Minister Vorster to US President Carter on US-South Africa Relations

    South African Prime Minister Vorster denies the existence of a South African nuclear program and lists hostile steps taken by the United States to exclude South Africa from international nuclear and atomic energy groups. He concludes that "it would seem... the United States officially holds the view that stability in Southern Africa and the future of our country is to be sacrificed in the hope of stopping Soviet expansionism."

  • October 06, 1977

    Telegram from H.M.S. Reid to UK Embassy in Pretoria with Instructions for Meeting with South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs Brand Fourie

    H.M.S. Reid sends instructions to the UK Embassy in Pretoria in preparation for a meeting with South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs Brand Fourie. Reid informs them that the Prime Minister wishes to send his concerns about the possibility of South Africa exploding a nuclear device.

  • October 14, 1977

    Letter from C.L.G. Mallaby to Mr. Moberly, 'South Africa’s Nuclear Intentions: Kalahari Facility'

    Mallaby summaries actions taken in response to accusations that South Africa is preparing to test a nuclear device.

  • October 17, 1977

    Letter from H.M.S. Reid to C.L.G. Mallaby, 'South African Nuclear Intentions'

    Reid of the UK's Central and Southern African Department describes a recent visit to Pretoria, South Africa, during which he heard supposedly non-nuclear explosions taking place at the Kalahari Desert facility.

  • October 24, 1977

    Letter from C.L.G. Mallaby to Mr. Hervey, 'South African Nuclear Intentions.

    Mallaby addresses Sir David Scott's 6 October letter concerning the possible South African nuclear test site in the Kalahari desert.

  • October 24, 1977

    Telegram from South African Embassy in Washington to South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs Brand Fourie on South African Assurances to the US on its Nuclear Intentions

    The South African Embassy in Washington reports on assurances to the US on South Africa's nuclear intentions

  • October 25, 1977

    Telegram from UK Embassy in Pretoria to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 'South Africa's Nuclear Intentions'

    UK Embassy in Pretoria reports on South African President Vorster’s remarks on nuclear matters to ABC television.

  • October 28, 1977

    Draft letter from H.M.S. Reid, 'South African Test Explosions'

    H.M.S. Reid writes a draft letter to South African concerning the possibility that South African would perform non-nuclear test explosions at the site in the Kalahari Desert.

  • October 31, 1977

    Restricted Teleletter from J.E. Holmes, UK Embassy in Moscow, to R.B. Bone, 'South African Nuclear Intentions'

    J .E. Holmes, at the UK Embassy in Moscow, reports on Soviet news coverage of the South African nuclear controversy.