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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • August 10, 1977

    Letter, Warren Christopher to William Hyland, 'Response to Soviet Message on South Africa'

    This draft reply to Leonid Brezhnev's August 1977 message to Jimmy Carter on the suspicious site in the Kalahari Desert includes a number of interesting points, among them a request for the "geographic coordinates, size, configuration, and exact nature of the facility." Presumably this information would be used by the US to better target its reconnaissance satellites on the site.

  • August 19, 1977

    Letter, US Secretary of State Vance to South African Foreign Minister Botha

    US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance explains the evidence which lead the US to suspect that South Africa was developing nuclear weapons and developing a testing site in the Kalahari Desert.

  • August 23, 1977

    Telegram from South African Embassy in the US on President Carter’s Press Conference on the Kalahari Nuclear Test Site

    The South African Embassy in the US reports to the South African Foreign Ministry on President Carter’s press conference on the kalahari nuclear test site and related US media coverage. Carter called on the South African government to place their nuclear programs under international safeguards and monitoring and cease attempts to develop and explosive device.

  • August 24, 1977

    Extract from Speech by the South African Prime Minister at Congress of the National Party of Cape Province

    Extract from a speech during which South African Prime Minister Vorster discusses Soviet allegations that South Africa has developed a nuclear bomb.

  • August 24, 1977

    Telegram from South African Mission in New York to Department of Foreign Affairs on the New York Times Editorial 'Rumors, Not Bombs in South Africa'

    Summary of New York Times editorial regarding Carter's press conference on South Africa's alleged development of nuclear weapons.

  • 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 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 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 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 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 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.

  • June, 1978

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Special Projects Division, 'Proliferation Group Quarterly Report, January – March 1978'

    This issue includes an extract from a recent study on Pakistan and two highly technical articles relating to on-going research to identify the signatures of high explosives used for the implosion method of nuclear detonation. It also includes a report that utilized open literature and classified intelligence, including two satellite photographs, the purpose of the article is to illuminate how the South African Government intended to use the site, down to the depth and thickness of the bore holes.