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israel Offered to Sell South Africa Nuclear Weapons

Posted by on May. 24, 2010 at 6:39 PM
  • 7 Replies

    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 and P W  Botha

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

    Mrs. Khan

    by on May. 24, 2010 at 6:39 PM
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    Replies (1-7):
    by Satan on May. 24, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    Surprised?  Anybody?  Anybody? 

    by any of this?

    by Silver Member on May. 24, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    Quoting Goodwoman614:

    Surprised?  Anybody?  Anybody? 

    by any of this?

    Do I hear crickets?

    Mrs. Khan

    by on May. 24, 2010 at 10:14 PM

     Well now isnt that special......

    by on May. 25, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    I wonder if Israel had their children write the same messages of love as they did for the Palestinians.

    Not Surprised.

    by on May. 25, 2010 at 8:04 AM

    Quoting Goodwoman614:

    Surprised?  Anybody?  Anybody? 

    by any of this?

    One Apartheid hand shakes another but in this case not even the bond of Apartheid was not enough to keep S. Africa from ratting them out.

    I wonder when western media will report this. I have seen it all over on line and it's been sent to me in a few different e-mails from some organizations I support but nothing in western media. I suppose they are trying to keep it quiet and figure out how to justify it when it does break news in the west if it is not censored from doing so. 

    by on May. 25, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    Open Letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ontario MPPs

    Open Letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ontario MPPs

    February 27, 2010

    [Open letter sent today to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario MPPs]


    We learned with concern about the unanimous passing of a motion in the Ontario legislature (30/107 MPPs in attendance) introduced by Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman (Thornhill) on Feb. 25, 2010 to condemn the annual Israel Apartheid Week (

    Mr. Shurman was quoted as saying that he wants “the name changed. It's just wrong” and that his resolution is about “moral suasion", and that the term apartheid is "close to hate speech…hateful” and “odious". He says he wants a “respectful” debate much more “constructive” than “slinging slurs”.

    Finally he concluded “it is also offensive to the millions of black South Africans oppressed by a racist white regime until the early 1990s”

    New Democratic MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park) also claimed that the word apartheid is “inflammatory” and "used inappropriately in the case of Israel". “Apartheid does not help the discussion”, she states. (

    I would like to note that none of the attacks and slanders against the term “Israeli Apartheid” were substantiated or backed by any logical argument or reason. This has become a trend with the “Israeli Hasbara” (Israel Public Diplomacy) and the pro-Israel lobby where events and people, including Jewish Canadians, are arbitrarily slandered simply for exercising their right to free speech.

    I am a Palestinian Christian from the Palestinian city of Bethlehem who survived Israel’s “Original Sin” that uprooted two thirds of the Palestinian people and wiped out over four hundred Palestinian towns and villages from the map of the world in 1947/1948. I am also one of the six million refugees who have been waiting for the past sixty-one years to return to their homes, lands and homeland. I am hurt and outraged at the morally bankrupt resolution of your Legislature. It adds insult to injury.

    I challenge any one or more from these “honourable members” of the Ontario Legislature who voted for the resolution to a reasonable and rational debate, at anytime.

    In the meantime I just want to tell Mr. Shurman, please do NOT speak in the name of the South African people. In contrast to your unfounded assertion (with no proof) that the term Israeli Apartheid is “offensive to the millions of black South Africans”, let me offer you the facts. The South African peoples and leaders are not offended by the Apartheid comparison, they do support the Palestinian struggle for liberation and if anything is offensive to them, it is those who oppress the Palestinian people (the Israeli regime) and the unquestioning supporters of such ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

    To back my statement, I am including some quotes from South African leaders showing what they think of Israeli Apartheid. We are certain that your attempt to speak in the name of South Africans is without legitimacy and we also question if you are fairly representing the majority of Canadians. May you and your colleagues at the Ontario Legislature learn some truth, facts and humility and finally please remember that the Canadian national anthem is “O Canada”, not “O Israel”.

    Hanna Kawas
    Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver


    South African leaders on Israel and Apartheid

    "But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." (1)


    "I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about." (2)

    - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    "When I hear, 'that used to be my home', it is painfully similar to the treatment in South Africa when coloreds had no rights". (3)

    - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    ”…Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith - even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents, collective punishment and the aggression against neighbouring states.” (4)

    - Former South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils from a speech at Israel Apartheid Week 2009

    "But what is interesting is that every black South African that I’ve spoken to who has visited the Palestinian territory has been horrified and has said without hesitation that the system that applies in Palestine is worse." (5)

    - Professor John Dugard, Former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestine

    “The horrendous dehumanisation of Black South Africans during the erstwhile Apartheid years is a Sunday picnic, compared with what I saw and what I know is happening to the Palestinian people.” (6)

    - Willie Madisha, former head of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

    "As someone who lived in apartheid South Africa and who has visited Palestine I say with confidence that Israel is an apartheid state. In fact, I believe that some of Israel’s actions make the actions of South Africa’s apartheid regime appear pale by comparison." (7)

    - Willie Madisha, in a letter supporting CUPE Ontario’s resolution.

    “I say with confidence that Israel is an Apartheid state. The trade union movement must move beyond resolutions, otherwise history will look back on us and spit on our graves.” (8)

    - Willie Madisha, at a trade union conference held in London, England.

    "Indeed, for those of us who lived under South African Apartheid and fought for liberation from it and everything that it represented, Palestine reflects in many ways the unfinished business of our own struggle." (9)

    - Farid Esack, Writer, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Anti-Apartheid Spokesperson

    "They support Zionism, a version of global racist domination and apartheid based on the doctrine that Jews are superior to Arabs and therefore have a right to oppress them and occupy their country." (10)

    - Current COSATU President, Sidumo Dlamini

    by on May. 25, 2010 at 10:10 AM


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