South Africa’s apartheid regime 30 years succeeded in building six Hiroshima-size bombs.
The apartheid regime’s “Project Chalet,” was already within reach of perfecting a usable, deliverable atomic bomb.
In 2010, The top secret minutes of the meeting were released. : “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available.” The document then records: “Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice.” The “three sizes” are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.
Washington had tried to impede Pretoria’s effort by embargoing the shipment of a VAX computer from Massachusetts-based Digital Equipment Corporation. “Project Circle needed that VAX” to complete the project,
The CIA station in Pretoria learned that South Africa was able to get around the embargo by having the computer — the same powerful VAX model — transshipped from the United States via the Israelis and TamCo.
Israel contributed another vital piece to Project Circle’s success by supplying the tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that is manufactured in nuclear reactors, for the bombs’ triggering mechanisms. In addition, Israel provided Pretoria with an essential avionics package that would allow the bombs to be dropped by South African Air Force jets.
On April 20, 1997, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz quoted the South African deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, as supposedly confirming that the “double flash” from over the Indian Ocean was indeed from a South African nuclear test.
Haaretz also cited past reports that Israel had purchased 550 tons of uranium from South Africa for its own nuclear plant in Dimona. In exchange, Israel allegedly supplied South Africa with nuclear weapons design information and nuclear materials to increase the power of nuclear warheads.
Pahad’s statement was confirmed by the United States embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, but Pahad’s press secretary stated that Pahad had said only that “there was a strong rumor that a test had taken place, and that it should be investigated”. In other words, he was merely repeating rumors that had been circulating for years.
In 1993, it was revealed that in a clandestine 15-year program, South Africa built six crude atomic bombs and was at work on a seventh when it decided to dismantle its arsenal, President F. W. de Klerk said today.
Mr. de Klerk told Parliament that the program, one of the nuclear era’s most closely guarded secrets, was begun in 1974 because of the apartheid Government’s sense of isolation and its fear of Communist designs in the region.
After he took office in 1989, Mr. de Klerk said, the devices were destroyed, the plant for making highly enriched uranium was closed, the uranium fuel was downgraded to make it unsuitable for weapons and the blueprints were shredded.
South Africa became the first and only country to destroy its nuclear arsenal, Mr. de Klerk said, because the cold war was waning and the withdrawal of Cuban troops from nearby Angola eased the sense of menace. Other Motives Seen
In South Africa, where distrust is the legacy of apartheid, and abroad, many suspect the Government was also motivated by a desire to prevent its atomic weapons from someday falling into the hands of a black government..