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Vault in which South African nuclear weapons were stored.
(Source: Robert Windrem)

U.S. Intelligence and the
South African Bomb

Documents Show U.S. Unable to Penetrate
Apartheid Regime's Nuclear Weapons Program

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 181

For more information contact:
Jeffrey Richelson, Editor
202/994-7000

Posted - March 13, 2006


Spying on the Bomb:
American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea

By Jeffrey T. Richelson

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Washington, DC, March 13, 2006 - The U.S. Intelligence Community failed to penetrate the veil of secrecy surrounding the nuclear activities of South Africa's apartheid regime, particularly its nuclear weapons program, according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and archival research and posted on the Web today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

Included in the Archive posting are over thirty documents -- many originally classified Top Secret/Codeword -- produced by interagency groups, the CIA, and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR).

The documents were obtained by Archive Senior Fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson, while conducting research for his forthcoming book, Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea (W.W. Norton).

The documents show that years after South Africa claimed that it had developed a new technique for uranium enrichment the U.S. was uncertain as to what it entailed. In addition, the documents show that in the 1980s the U.S. did not know the status of South African bomb development. They also reveal a dispute between the Director of Central Intelligence's Nonproliferation Center and State's INR over the likelihood that
South Africa's declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning the quantity of fissile material produced constituted an honest declaration or an act of deception. One possibility raised was whether some of the fissile material was transferred to another country. Since replacement of the apartheid regime by a majority government, no evidence has emerged that South Africa's declaration to the IAEA was deceptive.

An interagency assessment does demonstrate that the Intelligence Community did, in 1977, correctly assess, based on its understanding of South Africa and the regime's leadership, that while South Africa's entrance into the nuclear weapons club could be delayed, it could not be prevented. In 1993, President F.W. DeKlerk revealed that South Africa had, during the 1980s, built six nuclear weapons and was in the process of building a seventh when his government decided to halt the program and destroy the nuclear devices.


U.S. Intelligence and the South African Bomb
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 181
Edited by Jeffrey Richelson

On December 6, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized the development and production of an atomic bomb. While U.S. and British scientists worked in secret at Los Alamos and other sites, they also worried that German scientists would beat them to the finish line and present Adolf Hitler with an atomic weapon. General Leslie R. Groves, head of the Manhattan Engineer District, was assigned responsibility for not only building a bomb but, starting in the fall of 1943, investigating German progress - relying not only on a foreign intelligence section under his direct command, but on the Office of Strategic Services and other U.S. intelligence organizations. (Note 1)

One discovery made by a special U.S.-British team, designated ALSOS, that followed in the wake of the Allied forces who liberated France and then defeated Germany's military, was that Germany's scientists had made little progress towards producing an atomic bomb. (Note 2) But the effort provided the foundation for the more sophisticated, longer lasting, and more vital effort to monitor the development of the Soviet nuclear weapons program. By the mid-1950s, the U.S. was also monitoring the efforts of the People's Republic of China and France to join the nuclear club.

In future decades, a multitude of potential and real foreign nuclear weapons research and development efforts were monitored by the U.S. Intelligence Community. A variety of intelligence organizations have been used to collect nuclear intelligence. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted human and technical espionage operations - including U-2 and satellite overflights of the Soviet Union, China, Israel, and other nations. State Department diplomats, particularly science attachés, reported on nuclear developments in the nations where they were stationed.

The National Security Agency (NSA), and its ancestor organizations, intercepted communications while the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) conducted various forms of overhead reconnaissance relevant to detecting foreign nuclear weapons activities. The Strategic Air Command also operated U-2's, and some of those missions involved gathering the atmospheric debris resulting from nuclear tests. In addition, the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) operated a variety of collection systems - ranging from ones located under the sea to ones operating in outer space. Those systems detected the signatures emitted from the production of nuclear material or the testing of nuclear weapons - including acoustic signals, seismic signals, x-rays and gamma rays, infrared signals, and krypton-85.

The data collected by the above-mentioned collection agencies and other organizations was analyzed by some of those agencies - including the CIA and AFTAC - as well as a number of other analytical units, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) , the intelligence offices of the Atomic Energy Commission and its successor organizations, and Z Division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Among the nations whose nuclear program was the subject of a significant U.S. intelligence collection and analysis effort was the Republic of South Africa, whose policy of apartheid had condemned it to "pariah" status - which gave the white regime an extra incentive to develop a weapon that might insure its survival.

Beyond trying to obtain information on policy decisions, the collection and analysis effort focused on a number of South African facilities and institutions - including the Atomic Energy Board, Uranium Enrichment Corporation, the Pelindaba Nuclear Research Center, the uranium enrichment facility (Y-Plant) at Valindaba, and the Vastrap test site in the Kalahari Desert. South Africa's nuclear ties with foreign countries, particularly Israel, also were monitored and analyzed.

The documents in this briefing book, the first of four based on research for Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea, include national intelligence estimates as well as CIA and INR reports and memos, along with articles in classified periodicals. Of particular interest is the treatment of three key elements of the South African nuclear program. One involved its method of uranium enrichment - of separating the weapons grade U-235 isotope from the far more abundant U-238. The other two were South Africa's progress toward developing an atomic bomb, and the adequacy of South Africa's 1991 declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency as to the amount of uranium it had enriched. In addition, several documents deal with an event - the September 1979 Vela incident - that many, at the time, believed might be the result of a covert South African nuclear test. (Note 3)

The documents, many of which were classified at the Top Secret/Codeword level, reveal that despite U.S. collection and analysis efforts, there was substantial uncertainty about the nature of South Africa's novel technique for uranium enrichment and its progress toward an atomic bomb - even after South Africa had begun producing weapons. In addition, there was considerable debate within the Intelligence Community in the early 1990s, particularly between the Director of Central Intelligence's Nonproliferation Center and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, over whether South Africa's declaration to the IAEA was full and complete or had understated the quantity produced - and if it had, what happened to the fissile material it had not declared. The Intelligence Community did correctly assess that South Africa probably could not be dissuaded from developing an atomic bomb.


Documents
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Document 1: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Nuclear Activities of Foreign Nations, Volume IV: Asia and Africa, September 30, 1956. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

Four pages of this survey are devoted to South Africa, and note the existence and responsibilities of the nation's Atomic Energy Board, the absence of nuclear reactors, creation of a Nuclear Physics Institute, and South Africa's role as "one of the world's principal producers of uranium."

Document 2: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency "South Africa Seeks Uranium Hexafluoride Technology," Weekly Surveyor, May 4, 1970. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article, published in a weekly report produced by the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology, reported that an executive of the South African NuclearFuels Corporation had visited the United States to explore of the possibility of licensing uranium hexaflouride technology, apparently to allow South Africa to supply uranium in a more marketable form to recipients wishing to send it to a isotope separation facility.

Document 3: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South Africans Release Further Information on Their Isotope Separation Process," Weekly Surveyor, October 12, 1970. Top Secret/Codeword
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article noted that A.J.A. Roux, chairman of South Africa's Atomic Energy Board had claimed that his nation's new isotope separation process, the details of which the CIA had not yet determined, was low in capital cost but required substantial power.

Document 4: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Atomic Energy Activities in the Republic of South Africa, March 1971. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

One of the first points made in this OSI study is that South Africa lacked the capability to produce fissionable material and there was no evidence that it was involved in any activity related to the production of nuclear weapons. The report also provided information on the National Nuclear Research Center at Pelindaba, the Safari-1 reactor, and the organization of the South African atomic energy effort. It also noted the tight security system limiting information about the pilot plant being established for uranium isotope separation.

Document 5: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South Africans to Fund Preparatory Work for Full Scale Uranium Enrichment Plant," Weekly Surveyor, June 11, 1973. Top Secret/Codeword
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article provides information drawn from South African press reporting on an announcement by Piet Koornhof, Minister of Mines, that preparatory work would be funded toward the construction of a uranium enrichment plant employing South Africa's secret enrichment process. OSI's commentary on the information included the claim that while the information did not allow the process to be identified it, along with previous information, indicated use of a physical process "such as jet nozzle, mass or thermal diffusion, or some variation ..."

Document 6: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South African Uranium Isotope Enrichment Process Probably Aerodynamic," Weekly Surveyor, February 11, 1974. Top Secret/Codeword
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article reports on the discussions between the representative of a U.S. firm and senior officials of largest supplier of industrial gases in Africa - discussions relevant to South Africa's uranium enrichment effort. OSI commentary includes further analysis and speculation on the nature of South Africa's method for enriching uranium.

Document 7: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South Africa Not Currently in Position to Produce Nuclear Weapons," Weekly Surveyor, July 22, 1974. Top Secret/Codeword
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

July 10, 1974 comments by the vice president of the Atomic Energy Board are noted in this article, including his assertion that South Africa had the capability to produce nuclear weapons. The comment section of the article argues that South Africa does not yet have that capability, and specifies some of the reasons that OSI has reached that conclusion.

Document 8: Director of Central Intelligence, Memorandum, Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, September 4, 1974. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

As indicated by its title the memorandum, which conveyed the judgments in a special national intelligence estimate with the same title, focuses on the chances that a variety of nation's would become nuclear weapons states. With respect to South Africa, it discusses possible motivation for South Africa to develop a nuclear capability, how likely it was to do so, as well as the probable characteristics of any capability it did develop.

Document 9: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "Further Evidence That the South African Uranium Enrichment Process is Probably Similar to Becker Nozzle Principle," Weekly Surveyor, March 24, 1975. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article indicates that the U.S. Intelligence Community had been unable to establish, five years after South Africa had announced that it had developed a new process for uranium enrichment, exactly what that process entailed. The one paragraph that remains in the heavily redacted article questions whether the process is as novel as the South Africans claimed.

Document 10: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South African Uranium Enrichment Plant in Operation," Weekly Surveyor, April 21, 1975. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article comments on the claim by the South African prime minister that the pilot uranium enrichment plant at Valindaba (the Y-Plant) has gone into operation. The author(s) briefly discuss the makeup of the pilot facility, whether the entire installation is likely to be in operation, and its economic production capability.

Document 11: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "Some Aspects of South African Uranium Enrichment Process Revealed," Weekly Surveyor, May 5, 1975. Top Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

Weekly Surveyor readers are informed that South Africa had revealed that their uranium enrichment process relied on a high performance walled centrifuge, confirming "previous assessments that the process is a variation on the Becker jet nozzle process." The article also notes that details about the process remain "closely guarded" and discusses the requirements for it to be economically competitive with the uranium enrichment services offered by other nations.

Document 12: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South Africa Awards Nuclear Power Project to the French," Weekly Surveyor, June 14, 1976. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article reports on the South Africa's decision to award a French consortium the contract for producing two power reactors. It discusses the possible sources of enriched uranium for the reactors, South Africa's intention to have a fuel fabrication plant, and South African indications concerning construction of a reprocessing facility which could be used to produce weapons grade plutonium.

Document 13: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South African Discusses Delay in Uranium Enrichment Operations," Weekly Surveyor, June 28, 1976. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

A conversation between a member of the South African Atomic Energy Board and a source, resulted in this article. The board member, it is reported, provided information on the completion of the plant, and a safety problem that had delayed its becoming operational. The remainder of the article discusses alternative interpretations of the information revealed.

Document 14: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South Africa Again Rumored To Be Working on Nuclear Weapons," Weekly Surveyor, September 13, 1976. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

The catalyst for this article is a statement by the director of the Life Science Division of the South African AEB that "We're going to have make an atom bomb." The comment section notes that the statement was one of several similar statements made by knowledgeable South Africans, but states that there was no convincing evidence that South Africa was actually developing nuclear weapons - and suggests such statements might be aimed a foreign audiences.

Document 15: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South African Pilot Plant May Enrich Uranium to More Than 20% U-235," Weekly Surveyor, November 29, 1976. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

An analysis of published photographs led to the judgment stated in the article that the plant could produce uranium enriched to more than 20%, but also notes that a requirement for such high-levels of enrichment is not foreseen. The article explains what was shown in the photographs to produce the judgment about the plant's capability, as well as how the photos revealed a less complex arrangement than expected - an arrangement that would have limited the level of enrichment to less than 4% U-235.

Document 16: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, South African Uranium Enrichment Program, August 1977. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

The purpose of this heavily redacted study was "to assess the South African enrichment program and to determine the important characteristics of the uranium enrichment plant at Valindaba." The conclusions section provides the agency's judgment as to the operational status of the plant, its expected yearly production of reactor-grade uranium, whether the plant could be used to produce weapons-grade uranium, and the commercial prospects of the plant's enrichment technology. The discussion section focuses on the enrichment technology and the plant.

Document 17: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South Africa: Uranium Enrichment Technology," Weekly Surveyor, August 15, 1977. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article continues the reporting on the South African uranium enrichment process - noting the late 1976 statement of an official of that nation's Uranium Enrichment Corporation that provided new details on the enrichment technology. The remainder of the article notes that the official's statement is "consistent with other recent suggestions" concerning the specifics of the South African enrichment process.

Document 18: Director of Central Intelligence, Interagency Assessment, South Africa: Policy Considerations Regarding a Nuclear Test, August 18, 1977. Top Secret/Codeword
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

On August 6, 1977 a Soviet representative delivered a message for President Jimmy Carter from Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev. It disclosed that a Soviet reconnaissance satellite detected what appeared to be preparations for a nuclear test at a site in the Kalahari Desert. A U.S. reconnaissance satellite provided imagery that confirmed that such activities were underway. The National Intelligence Officer for Africa was asked to coordinate an interagency study on South Africa's nuclear intentions. The resulting nine-page Top Secret/Codeword study examined the domestic, military, and foreign policy considerations influencing the South African regime's decisions concerning a possible nuclear test - based both on a technical analysis of the South African program as well as "the Community's knowledge of the Afrikaner people and their leaders." While the assessment held out hope that in the short-term the South Africa could be dissuaded from testing, it was far less optimistic about the long-term prospects.

Document 19: [Author deleted], Memorandum for: National Intelligence Officer for Nuclear Proliferation, Subject: Review of The Nuclear Axis, August 11, 1978. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This review of the book The Nuclear Axis is heavily critical of the author's arguments and evidence. It also states that a "number of statements are known or are believed to be utterly false" including their statement on the likely nature of the South African uranium enrichment process - which was actually similar to the CIA's own judgment only a few years earlier (Document 9).

Document 20: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, "South Africa: Military Personnel at the Valindaba Uranium Enrichment Plant," Scientific Intelligence Weekly Review, April 30, 1979. Top Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This article explores the implications of a the presence of military personnel at the Pelindaba Nuclear Research Center. It notes that the presence is unprecedented and speculates on its connection to the production of weapons-grade uranium. According to the article production of such uranium had been expected in connection with two projects.

Document 21: Christine Dodson, National Security Council, Memorandum for: Secretary of State and others, Subject: South Atlantic Nuclear Event, October 22, 1979, w/att: Discussion Paper. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

On September 22, 1979 a U.S. VELA nuclear detection satellite detected a double flash of light - somewhere in the South Atlantic - that had been associated in over forty previous cases with a nuclear test. To this day what actually happened has never been conclusively determined by the U.S. Intelligence Community. While a presidential panel would conclude that the most likely explanation involved an object hitting the satellite rather than a nuclear test, other groups, organizations, and individuals - including a Director of Central Intelligence panel, the DIA, and analysts at several nuclear laboratories would reach a different conclusion. This paper was prepared at a time when it was assumed that VELA had detected a nuclear event - and the limitations of U.S. knowledge about the South African program permitted the belief that South Africa was the most likely culprit. The paper explores the nonproliferation stakes involved, the impact public disclosure would have on foreign policy efforts in Africa, the pros and cons of approaching the South African government, the effect on various nuclear negotiations with South Africa, informing the Soviet Union, possible U.N. sanctions, and the implications for public perceptions of the ability to verify a comprehensive test ban treaty.

Document 22: Office of Scientific Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, The South African Peaceful Nuclear Program: Its Dependence Upon Foreign Assistance, November 1979. Top Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

Although the focus of this intelligence assessment is the non-military component of South Africa's nuclear program, it also provides information on the background and operations of the Pelindaba and Valindaba facilities.

Document 23: Director of Central Intelligence, Interagency Intelligence Assessment, The 22 September 1979 Event, December 1979. Classification Not Available
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request by Natural Resources Defense Council

This study begins, as was requested by the National Security Council, with the assumption that the September 22, 1979 VELA event was a nuclear detonation. It discusses the possibility that the detonation could have occurred due to an accident, and noted the Defense Intelligence Agency's suggestion that the Soviet Union might have had reasons to conduct a covert test in violation of its treaty commitments. But the majority of the study is concerned with three possibilities to explain the incident - a secret test by South Africa, a secret test by Israel, and secret test by South Africa and Israel.

Document 24: Director of Central Intelligence, South Africa: Defense Strategy In An Increasingly Hostile World, January 1980. Classification Not Available
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request by Natural Resources Defense Council

This national intelligence product identifies South Africa's strategies - clandestine and overt - with regard to its nuclear weapons program. It also explores the options of maintaining the existing program levels, cutting back the program, and the political-military usefulness of the nuclear weapons program.

Document 25: National Foreign Assessment Center, Central Intelligence Agency, "South Africa - Israel: Status of Relations," Africa Review, June 8, 1981. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

One section of this article focuses on Israel-South African nuclear ties, noting that since Pretoria's sale of ten tons of uranium to Israel in 1963, speculation concerning Israeli-South African cooperation in the production of nuclear weapons had been "rife," and the Vela incident in September 1979 increased the speculation.

Document 26: Central Intelligence Agency, New Information on South Africa's Nuclear Program and South African-Israeli Nuclear and Military Cooperation, March 30, 1983. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

New information, almost certainly from a human source, was the basis for this report. The source, according to the report, expanded and confirmed U.S. knowledge about South Africa's nuclear weapons effort - although it is clear that the knowledge is largely historical. The secret study notes that South African scientists had been tasked to develop fission as well as thermonuclear designs, but also is clear that the U.S. had no direct intelligence concerning developments in the South Africa weapons program subsequent to the August 1977 Kalahari incident. The report, in addition to commenting on South African-Israeli cooperation in the nuclear field, also commented on the sparseness of the information available.

Document 27: Central Intelligence Agency, Trends in South Africa's Nuclear Security Policies and Programs, October 5, 1984. Top Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This study, apparently based in part on communications intelligence, stated the belief of agency analysts that South Africa had already stockpiled the components for several test devices or first-generation nuclear weapons and estimated the quantity of highly enriched uranium that could be produced each year for additional devices. It also observed that it was "reasonable to assume that R&D has continued." Topics covered in the study include South Africa's search for security, its nuclear explosives capability, considerations regarding nuclear testing, its nuclear test capabilities, and alternative delivery systems.

Document 28: Randall Fort, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to [Deleted], September 18, 1991. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

F.W. DeKlerk's assumption of the South African presidency would lead to a reversal of the nation's domestic and nuclear policies. In July 1991, de Klerk signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which required a declaration of the country's holdings of fissile material. This memo from the head of the State Department's intelligence bureau, addressed the question of whether Pretoria intended to fully declare its stock of highly enriched uranium - giving INR's conclusion about South Africa's intentions as well as enumerating reasons why it might choose to cooperate.

Document 29: INR/SPA to INR/SPA Files, Subject: South Africa's Options to Conceal Highly Enriched Uranium, March 3, 1992. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This memo notes that a recent CIA assessment that apparently questioned the completeness of South Africa's statement concerning the amount of highly enriched uranium that it had produced. INR, as spelled out in the memo, was less inclined to be suspicious and more willing to postpone judgment - noting that South Africa reportedly kept poor operating records and that more information was being received, but that INR could not yet reach a definitive judgment.

Document 30a: INR/SPA to DCI/NPC, Subject: PAWG Draft Paper on South Africa's Nuclear Inventory, August 26, 1992. Secret
Document 30b: INR/SPA to DCI/NPC, Subject: Comments on PAWG Draft, August 28, 1992. Secret

Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

These memos represent a continuation of continued debate (see Document 29) between INR and the Nonproliferation Center over the South Africa's compliance with its disclosure commitments under the NPT. The State Department's intelligence office - in response to a draft paper produced by a NPC working group - asserts that the information was unambiguous as to whether the DeKlerk regime had made an honest declaration, and that it was premature to reach a firm conclusion. The later document was submitted as a dissenting footnote to the working group draft.

Document 31: INR/SPA to DCI/NPC, Subject: INR Footnote to NPC Paper on South Africa, September 18, 1992. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

In this memo to NPC, INR protests the elimination of some portions of the footnote (Document 30b) it submitted to the working group draft, resulting in a version that failed to spell out in full the argument that the evidence was subject to differing interpretations and treated the issue of the range of possible levels of highly enriched uranium production less fully than INR would have preferred.

Document 32: INR/SPA - Gary Dietrich to INR - Douglas Mulholland, Subject: [Deleted], December 7, 1992. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This memo, from the chief of INR's Office of Strategic and Proliferation Affairs to INR chief Douglas P. Mulholland, again notes the intelligence concerning South African compliance with NPT disclosure requirements was inconclusive. It appears the memo may have been written in response to a CIA report concerning the Vela incident. INR notes two factors that suggest that, if a nuclear device was tested at the time of the incident, South Africa was not the country responsible.

Document 33: INR, Underground Nuclear Facilities, December 9, 1992. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

This paper is also related to the controversy over South African compliance with NPT disclosure requirements - as it examines the possibility that undeclared highly enriched uranium was being concealed in an underground facility. INR judges the likelihood to be remote while considering it more likely that such undeclared material, if it existed, would have been transferred to a foreign country.

Document 34: INR, South Africa: Nuclear Case Closed?, December 19, 1993. Secret
Source: Freedom of Information Act Request

On March 24, 1993, South African President F.W. deKlerk appeared before his nation's parliament to officially acknowledge that not only had South Africa sought to build an atomic bomb, but that it had succeeded and had built six devices and was working on a seventh, which were dismantled and destroyed before the country's accession to the NPT. This report examined a number of topics concerning the South African program: the dismantlement or decommissioning of nuclear facilities, the continued controversy over the inventory declaration, and the possibility that enriched uranium was transferred abroad.


Notes

1. For an account of Groves' intelligence operation see Robert S. Norris, Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, The Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man (South Royalton, Vt.: Steerforth Books, 2002), pp. 253-312; Jeffrey T. Richelson, Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006), pp. 17-61.

2. Book-length accounts of the ALSOS mission, written by the unit's commander and its scientific director, respectively are: Boris T. Pash, The ALSOS Mission (New York: Charter, 1969), and Samuel Goudsmit, ALSOS (Los Angeles, Ca.: Tomash, 1983).

3. U.S. intelligence performance with regard to the South African nuclear weapons program and the VELA incident are the covered in. Richelson, Spying on the Bomb, ch. 6, 7, 9.

 

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