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Africa: Abandoning Nuclear Weapons – Lessons From South Africa via all Africa

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The first stage involved the dismantling of South Africa’s six complete (and one partially assembled) nuclear devices,” reportedGreg Mills, who heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation, a research body that acts as an advisor to African governments.

“A decision to this effect was taken by then President F.W. de Klerk in February 1990, shortly after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the unbanning of the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress and the South African Communist Party.”

South Africa acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on Jul. 10, 1991. Seven weeks later, on Sep. 16, the country signed a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), allowing for frequent IAEA inspections of its facilities.

“South African authorities co-operated fully with the IAEA during the whole verification process, and were commended by the then director-general of the Agency in 1992, Dr. Hans Blix, for providing inspectors with unlimited access and data beyond those required by the Safeguards Agreement,” added Mills.

“The second step involved the scrapping of South Africa’s ballistic missile programme, which commenced in 1992, and took around 18 months.

“This process culminated in its admission to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in September 1995, after the destruction of the last of its missile engines had been verified.

“The third stage involved the conclusion of SA’s biological and chemical warfare programme.”

Mills concluded that South Africa “thus occupies a unique position in the world as being the first country to have voluntarily dismantled its nuclear weapons capability.

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