Thursday, December 12, 2013

yeah, um no..., ANC and nuclear weapons not a good look....,

wikipedia | The Republic of South Africa's ambitions to develop nuclear weapons began in 1948 after giving commission to South African Atomic Energy Corporation (SAAEC), the forerunner corporation to oversee nation's uranium mining and industrial trade.[1] In 1957, South Africa reached an understanding with the United States after signing a 50-year collaboration under the U.S.-sanctioned programme, the Atoms for Peace.[1] The treaty concluded the South African acquisition of a single nuclear research reactor and an accompanying supply of the Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) fuel, located in Pelindaba.[1] In 1965, the American subsidiary, the Allis-Chalmers Corporation, delivered the 20MW research nuclear reactor, SAFARI-1, along with ~90% HEU fuel to South African nuclear authority.[1] In 1967, South Africa decided to pursue the plutonium capability and constructed its own reactor, SAFARI-2 reactor also at Pelindaba, that went critical using 606kg of 2% HEU fuel, and 5.4 tonnes of heavy water, both supplied by the United States.[1]

The SAFARI-2 reactor was intended to be moderated by heavy water, fueled by natural uranium while the reactor's cooling system used molten sodium.[1] However in 1969, the project was abandoned by the South African government because the reactor was draining resources from the uranium enrichment program that was initiated in 1967.[1] South Africa began focusing on the success of its uranium enrichment programme which was seen by its scientists as easier compared to plutonium.[1] South Africa was able to mine uranium ore domestically, and used aerodynamic nozzle enrichment techniques to produce weapons-grade material. South Africa is suspected of having received technical assistance from various sources, including assistance from Israel in building its first nuclear device. In 1969, a pair of senior South African scientists met with Sültan Mahmoud, a nuclear engineer from Pakistan based at the University of Birmingham, to conduct studies, research and independent experiments on uranium enrichment.[3] The South African and Pakistani scientists studied the use of aerodynamic-jet nozzle process to enrich the fuel at the University of Birmingham, later building their nations programs in 1970s.[3] However it is not clear how much knowledge they gained and to what extent they cooperated.[3] South Africa gained sufficient experience with the nuclear technology to capitalize on the promotion of the U.S. government's Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE) program.[1] Finally in 1971, South African minister of mines Carl de Wet gave approval of the country's own PNE programme with the publicly stated objective of using PNEs in the mining industry. The date when the South African PNE programme transformed into a weapons program is a matter of some dispute.[1]

South Africa developed a small finite deterrence arsenal of gun-type fission weapons in the 1980s. Six were constructed and another was under construction at the time the program ended.[4]

 South African forces feared the threat of a "domino effect" in favour of communism, represented in southern Africa by Cuban proxy forces in Angola and threatening Namibia. In 1988 South Africa signed the Tripartite Accord with Cuba and Angola, which led to the withdrawal of South African and Cuban troops from Angola and independence for Namibia. The pre-emptive elimination of nuclear weapons was expected to make a significant contribution toward regional stability and peace, and also to help restore South Africa's credibility in regional and international politics.

South Africa ended its nuclear weapons programme in 1989. All the bombs (six constructed and one under construction) were dismantled and South Africa acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons when South African Ambassador to the United States Harry Schwarz signed the treaty in 1991. On 19 August 1994, after completing its inspection, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that one partially completed and six fully completed nuclear weapons had been dismantled. As a result, the IAEA was satisfied that South Africa's nuclear programme had been converted to peaceful applications.