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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)

  • July 20, 1970

    South African Department of Foreign Affairs, Announcement by South African Prime Minister Vorster

    Announcement by South African Prime Minister Vorster outlines the country’s approach to marketing and selling enriched uranium. He describes a unique process by which South African scientists can create a highly enriched “uranium concentrate.”

  • August 03, 1970

    Telegram No. K15 from South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs to South African Ambassador to France

    South African reply to French proposal delayed.

  • August 04, 1970

    South African Ambassador to France to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs

    French reaction to South Africa's public announcement of its new process for uranium enrichment.

  • August 14, 1970

    Telegram No. K21 from South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the South African Embassy in Paris

    Negotiations with the French continue to stall as South Africa wants to enter into a formal agreement first before revealing their process for uranium enrichment.

  • August 14, 1970

    South African Draft Reply to French Government

    Draft reply rejecting cooperation with the French unless an agreement is reached prior to revealing the new South African process.

  • August 17, 1970

    Telegram No. K6 to South African Embassy in Paris to Secretary for Foreign Affairs

    Expected questions from the French in response to South African requests.

  • August 19, 1970

    Telegram No. K22 from South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs to South African Embassy in Paris

    A. J. A. Roux will answer any French questions concerning the agreement in Vienna.

  • August 25, 1970

    United States Department of State, Memorandum from Martin Jacobs to Mr. Nelson on South African Nuclear Scientist’s Visit US Nuclear Testing Facilities

    Martin Jacobs reports that Dr. J. V. Retief, Senior Scientist of the National Nuclear Research Center of the South African Atomic Energy Board requested permission to visit an Army Corps research facility, the Cratering Group Research Labratory at Livermore, California. Jacobs was concerned that "there might be political repercussions if it appeared the US was assisting South Africa to produce nuclear explosives as a prelude to weapons development."

  • September, 1970

    Text for South African Ambassador to France to Convey to the French Authorities

    Message from South African authorities to accompany the draft agreement for cooperation on uranium enrichment.

  • September 29, 1970

    Telegram No. K26 from South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the South African Embassy in Paris

    Request that Roux inform Fourie of the progress of discussions in Paris.

  • October 02, 1970

    Telegram No. 145 from South African Embassy in Paris to Secretary for Foreign Affairs

    Roux reports on the progress of negotiations with the French for cooperation on uranium enrichment.

  • December 03, 1970

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

    Roux forwards a draft reply to the French.

  • December 03, 1970

    Draft Telegram to South African Embassy in Paris

    Draft instructions for the South African ambassador in Paris on negotiations with the French to cooperate on uranium enrichment.

  • December 03, 1970

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

    Roux forwards a draft letter to André Giraud, general administrator of the French Commission for Atomic Energy.

  • December 03, 1970

    Telegram No. 182 from South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the South African Embassy in Paris

    Instructions for the South African ambassador in Paris on negotiations with the French to cooperate on uranium enrichment.

  • December 04, 1970

    Letter from South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs to South African Ambassador to France

    Fourie forwards a letter from Roux to Andre Giraud.

  • 1971

    Note from Senator Michel Chauty, 'Contact with Dr. Roux, A.E.B., Pelindaba'

    Chauty investigates an offer from the French nuclear engineering company Framatome to purchase the nuclear power station in Koeberg, South Africa.

  • January 06, 1971

    Letter from South African Ambassador to France to Secretary for Foreign Affairs

    Ambassador Burger forwards a translation of a letter from French Ambassador Alphand.

  • January 18, 1971

    Letter from South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs to South African Ambassador to France

    Ambassador Burger is told to "reaffirm our understanding with regard to peaceful use and secrecy with the French."

  • February 19, 1971

    Telegram No. K7 from South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the South African Embassy in Paris

    Ambassador Burger is advised that a draft agreement is being prepared to share with the French.