Pretoria’s Nuclear Diplomacy

  • Robert Scott Jaster
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)


Since August 1977, when the USSR first alerted the US to what appeared to be a nuclear test site under construction in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa has played a subtle but risky game of nuclear diplomacy with the West. The game has not been without cost for South Africa. Yet, unlike most aspects of Pretoria’s relations with the West, its nuclear strategy has been active rather than reactive, and to a large degree successful.


International Atomic Energy Agency Nuclear Weapon Enrich Uranium Prince Edward Island Enrichment Plant 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Ronald Walters, ‘Uranium Politics and U.S. Foreign Policy in Southern Africa’, Journal of Southern African Affairs, July 1979, p. 94.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Richard Betts, ‘A Diplomatic Bomb for South Africa?’, International Security, 4, 4 (1979), p. 96.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See Betts, ‘A Diplomatic Bomb?’, pp. 105–8; Robert S. Jaster, ‘Politics and the “Afrikaner Bomb”’, Orbis, No. 4, Winter 1984;Google Scholar
  4. Ronald W. Walters, ‘U.S. Policy and Nuclear Proliferation in South Africa’, in U.S. Military Involvement in Southern Africa (Boston, Ma: Western Massachusetts Association of Concerned Scholars, South End Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Quoted by James Adams, The Unnatural Alliance (New York, London: Quartet, 1984), p. 184.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    Leonard S. Spector, The New Nuclear Nations (New York: The Carnegie Endowment, Vintage Books, 1985), p. 217.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Leonard S. Spector, Going Nuclear (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Books, 1987), p. 221.Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    See in particular Ronald Walters, ‘The September 22, 1979 Mystery Flash: Did South Africa Detonate a Nuclear Bomb?’ (Washington, DC: The Washington Office on Africa, 21 May 1985);Google Scholar
  9. Eliot Marshall, ‘Flash not Missed by Vela still Veiled in Mist’, Science, 30 November 1979; Adams, Unnatural Alliance, Ch. 10.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    Thomas O’Toole, Washington Post, 1 January 1980.Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    Thomas O’Toole, Guardian, 31 January 1980; Adams, Unnatural Alliance, pp. 187–8.Google Scholar
  12. 21.
    Eliot Marshall ‘Navy Lab Concludes the Vela Saw a Bomb’ in Science, 29 August 1980, p. 997.Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    John F. Burns, Washington Post, 30 April 1977.Google Scholar
  14. 35.
    See Robert Jaster, South Africa and its Neighbours: The Dynamics of Regional Conflict, Adelphi Paper No. 209 (London: IISS, 1986), pp. 18–20.Google Scholar
  15. 36.
    Kenneth Adelman and Richard Knight, ‘Can South Africa Go Nuclear?’, Orbis, 3 (Fall 1979), pp. 642–3.Google Scholar
  16. 38.
    Michele A. Flournoy, ‘The South African Nuclear Threat: A New Variable’, in South Africa in Crisis: Regional and International Responses, Report No. 28 (New York: International Peace Academy, 1988).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Institute for Strategic Studies 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Scott Jaster

There are no affiliations available

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