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Home arrow Blog arrow May 2010 arrow May 24, 2010

May 24, 2010
May 24, 2010: PROOF Israel offered to sell Apartheid S. Africa Nukes: UPDATED @ 11:30 AM

With gratitude to David in the UK for forwarding report by:

Chris McGreal in Washington

The Guardian, Monday 24 May 2010


Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

 

Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons

 

 

The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres, now president of Israel, and P W Botha of South Africa.


The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres and P W 
Botha

Photo copyright The Guardian


 

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.

 

The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior 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 two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.

 

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

 

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

 

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

 

A spokeswoman for Peres today said the report was baseless and there were "never any negotiations" between the two countries. She did not comment on the authenticity of the documents.

 

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

 

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

 

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

 

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: "In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

 

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

 

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: "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.

 

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

 

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

 

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.

 

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: "It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement... shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party".

 

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

 

The existence of Israel's nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

 

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

 

Israel pressured the present South African government not to declassify documents obtained by Polakow-Suransky. "The Israeli defence ministry tried to block my access to the Secment agreement on the grounds it was sensitive material, especially the signature and the date," he said. "The South Africans didn't seem to care; they blacked out a few lines and handed it over to me. The ANC government is not so worried about protecting the dirty laundry of the apartheid regime's old allies."

 

 




Report: Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons
Published today (updated) 24/05/2010 11:36
 
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Documents uncovered by an American academic on the close ties between Israeli and the then apartheid South Africa in the 1970s provide the first documented evidence of Israel's possession of nuclear weapons, British media reported.

The secret documents, unearthed by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, reveal that the then Defense Minister, and current president, Shimon Peres responded to a request from his South African counterpart for warheads by offering them "in three sizes," the minutes of top secret meetings reveal, the British daily The Guardian wrote.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

A broad-ranging agreement on military relations between the two countries known as Secment reportedly dictated that the "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret, signed in 1975, the daily wrote, and neither party would unilaterally renounce it.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East, the daily wrote.

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states, and among those in attendance during the classified meetings was South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong who "immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons," The Guardian wrote.

The deal was not ratified apparently because of the cost and perhaps the stipulation that Israel's prime minister would have final approval on any deal, the daily wrote.

"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 Guardian wrote.

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu revealed the existence of Israel's nuclear weapon's program to the Sunday Times in 1986, providing photographs of the Dimona nuclear site but provided no written documentation.

Vanunu was released in 2004 after 18 years in jail for leaking nuclear secrets and was recently handed down a three-month sentence for breaching the terms of his parole which include staying within the a small neighborhood in East Jerusalem, not speaking to journalists or foreigners or leaving the country, among others.

"Shame on you Israel," Vanunu said inside the Jerusalem District Court where he was being served. "The stupid Shin Bet and Mossad spies are putting me back in prison after 24 years of speaking nothing but the truth. Shame on you democracy, the Knesset, synagogues and the world media.

"Shame on you all the Arabs that are allowing me to be put back in prison. Shame on you Senate, congress, and the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency for not protecting my freedom. Shame on you all the world's religions, the stupid spies, the Jews, Christians and Muslims," the Israeli daily Haaretz wrote.

"Everyone knows that Israel has nuclear weapons," he went on to say, "but no one is talking about it… The world doesn't want nuclear weapons – not in Israel, not in the Middle East and not anywhere in the world."

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=286581







About Apartheid Israel


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It's Time To Rid The World Of Nuclear Weapons

By Desmond Tutu

23 May, 2010

 Sunday Observer/UK



Skeptics may say a nuclear-free world is an impossible dream, but they said that about slavery and apartheid too.



This year the nuclear bomb turns 65 - an appropriate age, by international standards, for compulsory retirement. But do our leaders have the courage and wisdom to rid the planet of this ultimate menace? The five-yearly review of the ailing nuclear non-proliferation treaty, currently under way at the United Nations in New York, will test the strength of governments' commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world.



If they are serious about realizing this vision, they will work now to shift the focus from the failed policy of nuclear arms control, which assumes that a select few states can be trusted with these weapons, to nuclear abolition. Just as we have outlawed other categories of particularly inhuman and indiscriminate weapons - from biological and chemical agents to anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions - we must now turn our attention to outlawing the most iniquitous weapons of all.



Gains in nuclear disarmament to date have come much too slowly. More than 23,000 nuclear arms remain in global stockpiles, breeding enmity and mistrust among nations, and casting a shadow over us all. None of the nuclear-armed countries appears to be preparing for a future without these terrifying devices. Their failure to disarm has spurred nuclear proliferation, and will continue to destabilize the planet unless we radically alter our trajectory now. Forty years after the NPT entered into force, we should seriously question whether we are on track to abolition.



Disarmament is not an option for governments to take up or ignore. It is a moral duty owed by them to their own citizens, and to humanity as a whole. We must not await another Hiroshima or Nagasaki before finally mustering the political will to banish these weapons from global arsenals. Governments should agree at this NPT review conference to toss their nuclear arms into the dustbin of history, along with those other monstrous evils of our time - slavery and apartheid.



Skeptics tell us, and have told us for many years, that we are wasting our time pursuing the dream of a world without nuclear weapons, as it can never be realized. But more than a few people said the same about ending entrenched racial segregation in South Africa and abolishing slavery in the United States. Often they had a perceived interest in maintaining the status quo. Systems and policies that devalue human life, and deprive us all of our right to live in peace with each other, are rarely able to withstand the pressure created by a highly organized public that is determined to see change.



The most obvious and realistic path to a nuclear-weapon-free world is for nations to negotiate a legally binding ban, which would include a timeline for elimination and establish an institutional framework to ensure compliance. Two-thirds of all governments have called for such a treaty, known as a nuclear weapons convention, and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has voiced his support for the idea. Only the nuclear weapon states and NATO members are holding us back.

Successful efforts to prohibit other classes of weapons provide evidence that, where there is political momentum and widespread popular support, obstacles which may at first appear insurmountable can very often be torn down. Nuclear abolition is the democratic wish of the world's people, and has been our goal almost since the dawn of the atomic age. Together, we have the power to decide whether the nuclear era ends in a bang or worldwide celebration.



Last April in the Czech capital, Prague, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, but he warned that nations probably would not eliminate their arsenals in his lifetime. I am three decades older than the US president, yet I am confident that both of us will live to see the day when the last nuclear weapon is dismantled. We just need to think outside the bomb.



Desmond Tutu is a patron of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

© 2010 Observer/UK





May 11, 2010: The NPT and Prayer Read more...

May 5, 2010: Nuclear Free Zones: Possibilities to change the impossible    Read more...

May 3, 2010: Ahmadinejad at the UN Read more...

May 1, 2010: Reigniting the NPT  Read more...

April 21, 2010: Back to Iran, Israel, Nukes and Mordechai Vanunu Read more...

April 19, 2010: Blowing Doors and Nuclear Deceptions   Read more...

   
 
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