Sunday 15 March 2015
Remnants of SA nuclear weapons programme worry the USA
The Washington Post has written about a long stalemate between US and SA officials as the prior try to convince the latter to surrender SA's stockpile of highly-enriched uranium (HEU): US unease about SA highly enriched uranium stockpile. DWG tells the tale of the acquisition and eventual dismantling of nukes by the apartheid regime, though certain "dual-use" elements, like the HEU stockpile - sufficient to build six Hiroshima-yield nukes - remain under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision and have been used to produce medical isotopes - a huge foreign-exchange earner for SA. The US is concerned about the HEU stockpile's security after a narrowly-foiled robbery at Pelindaba in 2007. I had argued in DWG that dual-use electronic relays and detonators were inadequately supervised and in 1998 - five years after the nuke programme was declared dead by FW de Klerk - caused a premature detonation east of Pretoria that killed four workers.