New docs on Israel’s nuke deal with apartheid SA

Kudos to the Guardian’s Chris McGreal for having published and interpreted a series of official agreements concluded between Israel and South Africa in the mid-1970s, when the government in South Africa was at the height of its pursuit of apartheid. (HT: omop.)
In 1974, the U.N. General Assembly formally determined that apartheid constituted a crime against humanity. Ah, but that didn’t prevent Israel’s then defense minister (and current president) Shimon Peres from sending a fawning letter to South Africa’s Information Minister in November 1974 saying that the two countries share a “common hatred of injustice,” and urging a “close identity of aspirations and interests.”
McGreal writes that the new documents were uncovered by U.S. researcher Sasha Polakow-Suransky, as part of his research for his soon-to-be-published book on the relationship between the two countries while South Africa was still in its apartheid phase. Officials in the present South African government apparently felt little need to continue to keep the documents secret.
McGreal writes that the newly revealed “top secret” minutes of meetings held by officials from the two countries in 1975 “show that South Africa’s defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them ‘in three sizes’.” The ‘three sizes’ can be understood, from other documents in the collection, to refer to warheads that could be conventional, chemical, or nuclear.
McGreal wrote,

    Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel’s prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.
    South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.
    The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with “special warheads”. Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

It was in September 1979 that a U.S. satellite, the “Vela Hotel”, detected a double flash of light over the South Atlantic that many specialists thought was an emission from a nuclear test conducted from a South African naval vessel, quite likely in coordination with Israeli specialists.

12 thoughts on “New docs on Israel’s nuke deal with apartheid SA

  1. :)

    Another embarrassment for Israel. One PR disaster after another. I think Israel’s behavior over the past 40 years is catching up with it…thanks to the Internet.

  2. HALI

    Proof enough that Israel has Nuclear Warheads!
    Now where is the sanctions Obama?
    Why double standards?
    Why did S.Africa need Nuclear weapons?
    To annihilate poor blacks?

  3. omop

    HALI.
    The following is a quote that answers the double standards issue
    “We’re Right, the Whole World’s Wrong,” wrote Dov Fischer, an attorney and a member of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. Rabbi Fischer is also national vice president of the Zionist Organization of America.
    Almost reflects the US’s attitude towards the rest of the world.

  4. Neil M

    Well, I don’t believe Israel has even ONE big nuke, let alone enough to qualify as an “arsenal”. Nothing about Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal adds up. Not France’s story; not S Africa’s story, and certainly not Mordechai’s over-publicised penny-dreadful.
    The Israelis are too greedy and parsimonious to spend the hundreds of billions of dollars required to amass one. No one has ever built a nuclear arsenal before they had a pre-existing delivery system and no-one ever will; except Israel the axis of mendacious audacity, of course.
    It’s possible they’ve a few dozen redundant short range tactical nukes but these are almost as risky for the operator as for the target.

  5. J K

    Well, Neil M, all the experts disagree with you, and have no problem adding things up. Especially Mordechai (Vanunu)’s account and photographs, which no one knowledgeable doubts. It’s amazing to see such doubt in 2010. Several Israeli PMs and Ministers have confirmed Israel’s nuclear arsenal, always soon after followed by an official statement that what was plainly said was actually not said.

  6. Neil M

    The weight of numbers is certainly in JK’s favour. However, the only ‘experts’ with a serious claim to credibility and knowledge of the facts are the highest ranking commanders of Israel’s military dictatorship and, as we all know, they’re not quite sure whether they have a Nuclear arsenal or not. Until they make up their mind(s) I’ll stick with conclusions drawn from deductive reasoning in preference to illusions dressed up in crocodile tears and unconvincing hyperbole.

  7. Salah

    Well, I don’t believe Israel has even ONE big nuke
    Give us your steak why Israeli not allowing UN agencies to check on here programs or Negev Nuclear Research Center if your claims been so right.

  8. omop

    Neil M. exhibits a strange fixation.
    He states he doubrs if Israel even has ONE big nuke. According to documets supporting the Guardians article Shimon Perez offered Both a choice of THREE. A logical presumption with be either BIG, MEDIUM OR SMALL.
    He further claims that, ” the Israelis are too greedy and parsimonious to spend hundreds of billions of dollars”. That in all probability is correct. Israel has cost the US though according to “neutral” think tanks some $1.4 trillion dollars since it was created by the UN.
    It could be in all probability that several billions of that $1.4 trillion dollars the US taxpayer provided Israel yearly that paid for the 3 sizes options Mr. Perez offered South Africa,

  9. bevin

    Israel didn’t rell South Africa that it had bombs: merely that it could supply them. Why Israel should build weapons that the US supplies free of charge is not quite clear.
    My assumption has been that Israel has made its own bombs, but it is far from impossible that it has been supplied frrom elsewhere with, if not the finished article, then at least the parts to be assembled.
    Naturally, with such stock, it would be in a position to sell them to the Shah, Botha or any other ideological brothers.

  10. Salah

    Let leave the argument of the Israeli nuke, let those friend of Israeli telling that Arab have more respect under Israeli democracy and they are far better of under most Arab undemocratic/tyrent regimes.
    على مدخل قرية الشيخ سعد في القدس الشرقية يطالعك مشهد عبثي بقدر ما هو مأساوي، حيث نصبت إشارة مرور ضوئية على الحاجز العسكري الإسرائيلي ويافطة تقول أن السفر مسموح باللون الأخضر لكن اللون أحمر دائما.
    يقول مواطن من القرية تعلو شفتيه ابتسامة بأن اللون الأحمر حاضر على الدوام بينما تفيد زوجته بأن الحقيقة “حقيقة حياتنتا ظلم وذل وهوان” و تشير بأصبعها على الطرف الآخر من الحاجز موضحة: “ها هو الجيش لا يسمح لأحد بالعبور, ولا المرضى وحتى الموتى لا يعبروا للدفن بدون إبراز شهادة وفاة.
    http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/05/25/109609.html

  11. Neil M

    Reply to Salah, at May 25, 2010 01:30 PM:
    “…why Israeli not allowing UN agencies to check on here programs or Negev Nuclear Research Center”
    1. Apart from being pinged for mendacity again (a routine experience for Israel), there’s no down-side to letting the IAEA see, assess and count the fabled ‘hundreds’ of powerful weapons in the giant nuclear arsenal.
    2. On the other hand, letting the IAEA in to discover, and tell the world, that the arsenal is a figment of group-think imagination would be an experience too horrifying for Israelis to contemplate. They’d have to stop boring everyone to death with hollow threats and telling each other fairy-tales about how brave they are.

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